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Boutique casinos may help ailing Atlantic City casino industry

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

One New Jersey lawmaker says smaller may be better when it comes to stimulating Atlantic City’s casino industry.

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Casino revenue in the resort city is down for the third straight year because of the economy and increased competition from neighboring states.

Senator Jim Whelan is the sponsor of a bill that would lower the minimum number of rooms for new casino projects to 200 from the current 500 room requirement, to make room for boutique casinos.

Whelan: We know there’s not enough capital to get the billion dollar casinos going. I believe and I’ve had conversations with people who’ve indicated to me they wouldn’t do a billion dollar project but maybe they’d do a $250 to $300-million project and that’s what this is aimed at. Hopefully they come on line, they have some success, and they ultimately expand to a 500 or more room casino.

Some Atlantic City casino operators say allowing the construction of up to four boutique casinos would hurt existing casinos by increasing competition. Whelan says new projects are needed to attract more visitors.

Officials of Hard Rock International Tuesday said they hope to build a $300-million casino hotel in Atlantic City. They say they are intrigued by the possibility of building smaller complexes there.

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