Beleaguered Atlantic City gets vote of support from business leaders

 As casinos fail, business and government leaders are rethinking Atlantic City's future. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

As casinos fail, business and government leaders are rethinking Atlantic City's future. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Business and government leaders in Atlantic City acknowledge they are concerned about the loss of jobs and tax revenue from the closing of three casinos.

However, they’re still optimistic about the city’s future.



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A conference center under construction and some retail projects are part of Atlantic City’s transition to a resort destination that’s not focused solely on casino gambling, said John Palmieri, executive director of the Casino Redevelopment Authority.

“Leisure visitors are different from gaming visitors. Obviously, gaming is still an important amenity here, but we’re building on that and creating new sectors and additional reasons within a tourism environment to encourage people to visit,” he said. “So we’re feeling really good about where we are, more to do obviously, but we’re in a good place.”

Officials say non-gaming spending has increased even as casino revenues declined. Atlantic City casinos now earn 28 percent of their money from operations away from the slots and card tables — that’s up from 22 percent three years ago.

By Sept. 15, there will be three fewer casinos in the city.

That pared-down competition could be good for the eight casinos still in business.

Resorts Casino Hotel, for instance, is having the best summer in a decade, according to its president, Mark Giannantonio.

“It is vision that’s going to turn this city around, and it is very important that we make clear that Atlantic City will be prosperous,” he said. “Our result, I think, is a good one. It will help to, hopefully, bring in new investors into the market and, hopefully, repurpose some of the buildings that are closing.”

The president of the Atlantic City Alliance, the organization charged with marketing the city and creating new events to draw more leisure visitors, said it will take time to reverse the impact of Revel, Trump Plaza and Showboat closings.

But Liza Cartmell said the resort town still has a wealth of resources to draw upon.

“The beach, the boardwalk, the marinas,” she said Tuesday. “We have the largest concentration of lodging and related dining meeting space, shopping, and entertainment in the mid-Atlantic outside of New York City.”

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