During a visit to Asbury Park Friday, Gov. Chris Christie acknowledged Atlantic City will have to change to become successful.
But four years into his administration’s five-year plan to help the city turn around, Christie said he’s not panicking over the closings of several Atlantic City casinos.
“I don’t think we can necessarily look at certain closures as being indicative of failure. It may just be indicative of reality with all the competition that they have around them now from Pennsylvania, Delaware, and other states.” he said. “So I’m certainly not ready to throw in the towel on this.”
The Revel Casino and Hotel will close more than a week earlier than previously announced, with the $2.4 billion facility shutting down on Labor Day. That same weekend, the Showboat is slated to close. And in September, the Trump Plaza will shut its doors for good.
The state will not attempt to force those gaming halls to stay open, Christie said.
“The government is not going to take over. I have no interest in being a casino CEO, and the government has no business taking over private businesses,” he said. “I am confident we couldn’t do it better.”
Christie said Atlantic City needs to emphasize its offerings as a resort rather than the gaming mecca it was before casinos were legalized in Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.
“We’ve started to do that,” he said. “You’re seeing all the non-gaming stuff, shopping and all the other attractions there, the Steel Pier and others are all getting really good numbers. So we just need to continue to work to do that.”
While the governor said he has some ideas about a new strategy for Atlantic City, he declined to discuss the details until a planned Sept. 8 summit with state and local officials to discuss the city’s future.