Tales From the Road: Atlantic City, Still Awful
A few years ago, I wrote a story for The Post's Travel section about the renaissance of Atlantic City. Things were getting hipper, happier, cleaner. The future seemed so bright I had to wear shades.
Okay, things for AC aren't quite panning out the way I'd expected. Gaming revenue, according to one report, was down almost 10 percent in March from a year ago. Ouch. The reasons? The poor economy, a partial smoking ban and . . . competition. Folks can go to Pennsylvania to gamble now, and AC is looking progressively less appealing.
I was there a few weeks ago, and it's easy to see why it has become unattractive. A partial smoking ban just doesn't work: The place still reeks, and there was little policing of the rules in the non-smoking sections. Last week, AC's City Council passed a total smoking ban that would go into effect in October; smoking would be allowed only in lounges without slot machines or gaming tables. That's not going to help the bottom line, however. I imagine it's just going to scare away those who do smoke (and incessantly, at that).
While the streets seem cleaner, there's little to do off the boardwalk or beyond the marina other than outlet-shop. You have to pay (pay!!) to park at the casinos, and the boardwalk itself remains a mess. There's been some refurbishment of old facades, but the restaurants and shops along the boardwalk are super-junky. Most of the crowd (many of them elderly) doesn't seem to be having much fun; unlike Vegas, people come to AC to gamble. Fun seems to be at the bottom of the agenda.
In early March, the New York Times ran a piece on a new boutique hotel, the Chelsea, that's slated to open in AC in May. Evidently, it's another attempt to bring some hipness to the town. But here's my favorite quote from the story:
"Atlantic City is one of the most disgusting places in the world," said Sean Kalish, a 26-year-old lawyer who visits the casinos to play poker. He was standing in a slender peacoat waiting for the Atlantic City bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Wednesday. "It's like Las Vegas got drunk and slept with South Jersey and this is their bastard child."
I've had fun in AC, and I really don't want to see the place fail, as it employs thousands and its residents deserve better. But while casino hotels like the Borgata and Harrah's continue to upgrade and grow and put a pretty polish on the city, it's clearly having a difficult time these days. It'll be interesting to see what happens once the smoke clears in October.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: M Street | April 18, 2008 9:33 AM
Posted by: Sweetie | April 18, 2008 9:36 AM
Posted by: Tom | April 18, 2008 9:39 AM
Posted by: 51 | April 18, 2008 10:25 AM
Posted by: LM | April 18, 2008 10:29 AM
Posted by: Shawn | April 18, 2008 10:36 AM
Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | April 18, 2008 11:26 AM
Posted by: ajsmithva | April 18, 2008 11:44 AM
Posted by: bfulton | April 18, 2008 11:56 AM
Posted by: rweissva | April 18, 2008 11:57 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:34 PM
Posted by: kathycoulnj | April 18, 2008 2:02 PM
Posted by: NS | April 18, 2008 2:11 PM
Posted by: Margate | April 18, 2008 3:13 PM
Posted by: hh | April 18, 2008 3:55 PM
Posted by: H.K. | April 18, 2008 4:09 PM
Posted by: CPS | April 18, 2008 4:26 PM
Posted by: Borgata | April 18, 2008 8:10 PM
Posted by: rja112 | April 20, 2008 11:45 PM
Posted by: BxNY | April 21, 2008 11:21 AM
Posted by: Linda R | April 23, 2008 5:06 PM
Posted by: John Deiner | April 23, 2008 6:03 PM
Posted by: Barbara | April 24, 2008 9:23 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.