Gambling on a Comeback for Atlantic City

November 28, 2011 – In The News
NJ Spotlight

John Palmieri recently took over as head of Atlantic City’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), a state agency that has taken control of the planning, development and marketing of the city's casino district. His goal is to fix what is ailing Atlantic City and he is currently drafting a master plan that would spell out the short- and long- term goals for the district. According to the legislation that created the tourism district, the CRDA must have a plan on Gov. Christie’s desk by February 1, 2012.

However, the governor's commission acknowledged in its report that competitive forces could make it impossible for Atlantic City to fix its gambling franchise.

The best way to address the issue may be through conferences and conventions, said Jack Plackter. He notes that there are about 23 million people within a 200-mile radius.

"It's all about driving midweek business. Because on summer weekends, you can't get a room there," he said.

Part of the challenge will be whether the CRDA will have the political will to clean up the blighted areas that give some the impression the city is unclean and unsafe. Without doing that, many say it will never be a tourist destination.

"We always joke in our office that when you go outside and walk during lunch, you're looking at the same buildings that were there when we all started practicing 30 years ago. That's the real problem. No one's put a nickel into them," Plackter said. "It doesn't feel like somewhere you'd want to vacation except if you wanted to gamble."

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