Christie deserves a margarita on the house

Well, count my Mom among those thrilled hear the news that Jimmy Buffett is bringing his Margaritaville resort to Atlantic City. I think her and my father have visited nearly every Margaritaville in the Caribbean. I even went with her to visit one in Connecticut, the last place I’d expect to see palm trees and sandy beaches.

This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

Well, count my Mom among those thrilled hear the news that Jimmy Buffett is bringing his Margaritaville resort to Atlantic City. I think she and my father have visited nearly every Margaritaville in the Caribbean. I even went with her to visit one in Connecticut, the last place I’d expect to see palm trees and sandy beaches.

Atlantic City is a perfect fit for the easygoing brand and its throng of parrot head followers. And it’s a great move for Atlantic City towards Gov. Christie’s vision of the struggling gambling destination reborn as a tourist resort on the level of Las Vegas.

The ability to attract non-gambling attractions like Margaritaville to Atlantic City is sorely needed to remake the struggling city into a true resort. One look at the gaming revenues supports this move. Despite the new Revel casino being in its second month of operation, Atlantic City’s gambling revenues dropped 10 percent in May compared to the same month last year. 

It took $261 million worth of tax breaks to help restart construction of Revel Casino, Atlantic City’s first new casino in nine years. But so far, the $2.4 billion Revel resort has gotten off to a slow start. Revel ranked eighth in both May and June among Atlantic City casinos, reporting gambling revenue of $13.9 million and $14.9 million, respectfully.

And Moody’s Investors Service said that newer casinos like Revel “do not appear to be boosting gaming demand in their markets.”

So the move to more non-gambling destinations seems like a smart one, as it appears we’re reaching a saturation point as far as gambling revenue is concerned.

Regardless of the numbers, some lawmakers continue to act like boneheads. This week, several proposed ending Atlantic City’s monopoly on gambling in the state and want to allow casinos at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, as if the answer to the declining gambling market is to build more casinos, and competition, for Atlantic City. 

Keep in mind, these are the same idiots that brought New Jersey the garish and wasteful Xanadu project (or as New Jersey Sierra Club Chapter Director Jeff Tittel calls it, the “Vietnam of malls”), which has burned through $1.9 billion and two developers, each of whom ran out of money.

Thankfully, Christie remains opposed to the expansion of gambling outside of Atlantic City, instead banking on his five-year Atlantic City turnaround plan to pan out.

“Any conversation about extending gaming to the northern part of the state or any place else in this state is simply a waste of time,” Christie said. 

I don’t often agree with Gov. Christie these days, but I think he’s 100 percent right on his focus on growing Atlantic City as a unique destination for travelers across the country.

So far, the city has gained a Vegas-style luxury resort, a free nightly music and 3D light show from the folks who do work for Cirque du Soleil and an ongoing redevelopment of seedy downtown areas.

 Personally, I would suggest Christie revive a long-dead Las Vegas project for development in Atlantic City: a full-scale Star Trek USS Enterprise, complete with restaurant, ride elements, tours and live entertainment.

Parrot heads and trekkies flocking to the same east coast destination? That would certainly help Atlantic City live long and prosper.

 

Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.