The Atlantic City gambling scene has been hit pretty hard in recent years with employees battling for better pay and lawmakers taking aim at the casinos. And even with words like 'bankruptcy' being thrown around regularly, that hasn't scared off newcomers. The latest rumors circulating is that two more casinos are scheduled to go up in New Jersey but opponents are being vocal, suggesting that those casinos could sink the entire industry in Atlantic City.
Last week, a panel at the East Coast Gaming Congress and iGaming Institute spoke on a proposal for two new casinos that are going up in northern New Jersey, close to New York City. The deal would involve the new casinos sending $200 million to Atlantic City (for a period of time), which they badly need. It could be the shot in the arm they need to save this classic gambling destination. However, those who oppose the new casinos reply that they could have an adverse effect on the existing casinos and that three to five of the eight that are in Atlantic City could close if these new ones open. After all, Atlantic City is a destination but if there are other - possibly better - casinos in the neighborhood that will take away business.
There are no locations set in stone for these new casinos, but the obvious choice is at the Meadowlands Racetrack. This track is in East Rutherford and is known as the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets of the NFL, and the preliminary estimate is that a casino/resort combination at that location will cost $5 billion. The scale of the New Jersey casino proposals are quite impressive as the resort is projected to have a hotel that is 60 to 80 stories along with nine restaurants. The vote for the new casinos will take place in the fall, but you can expect those that fall on either side of the argument to state their point all the way up to the vote.
Of course, the new developments have publicly stated that their goal isn't to pull away business from Atlantic City - their plan is to lure New York tourists - but many people will see a correlation. It's understandable to believe that a tourist who originally wanted to visit Atlantic City would instead choose New York since there are more things to do yet still get the casino gaming they crave.
Atlantic City is really in a tough spot right now and the fact that they're even open to this type of deal shows what kind of pain they're in. They might be willing to have competitors enter the market if those rivals send over millions of dollars to help them get back on their feet. Maybe in the long run, it's the best strategy for Atlantic City, which could use that money to rebuild itself into a sexy destination and once again stand out on the eastern shore. But at the same time, Atlantic City is fading as a destination and this deal could be welcoming casinos that end up putting them away.