Still under state control, Atlantic City sees tourism growth

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A dealer counts chips during a game of roulette at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City. (Wayne Parry/AP Photo)

A dealer counts chips during a game of roulette at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City. (Wayne Parry/AP Photo)

Atlantic City is no longer teetering on the brink of financial collapse, despite the announcement from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy last week that the seaside resort town’s finances would remain under state control.

In fact, a report released Wednesday showed that Atlantic City’s tourism numbers are up.

Researchers at Stockton University found that more people were parking at Atlantic City casinos and booking hotel rooms there in June than during the same time last year, according to an analysis of room and parking tax revenue.

“Atlantic City is stable,” said Brian J. Tyrrell, a professor of hospitality and tourism management studies at Stockton.

Tyrrell said the city saw a bump in tourism revenue even though two new casinos, the Hard Rock and Ocean Resort, opened in June, growing Atlantic City’s casino stock and increasing competition.

“You would expect that if all the new properties were doing was cannibalizing the existing business, that those metrics would be down across the board,” he said, “but they’re up.”

Last week Murphy, a Democrat, announced that Atlantic City could remain under state control for up to three more years until the law authorizing the takeover expires.

Although there have been calls to return Atlantic City to local control, including from the city’s Mayor Frank Gilliam, the credit rating agency Moody’s said Wednesday that the continuation of state oversight would be a “credit positive” for the gambling town.

“State control has had a strong, positive effect on the city’s financial position, which remains weak,” the Moody’s report stated.

A strong credit rating would allow Atlantic City to borrow more money to fund public projects such as new or improved infrastructure.

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