Fall of the Boardwalk Empire?

My piece in the Las Vegas Business Press about the beginning of the end in Atlantic City is out:

Historians have taken the date 476 A.D. and the deposition of Romulus Augustus, the last Roman emperor, as the “official” date of the fall of the Roman Empire, even though at the time most Western Europeans were too preoccupied with daily survival to take much notice of events in the far-off capital.

When historians look back at the history of casino gaming in Atlantic City, they may decide that 2010 marks the beginning of the end of that city's reign as one of the country's leading gaming destinations, and they might focus on a single event: The decision by MGM Mirage to abandon its holdings in the city after the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement found Pansy Ho, the company's partner in its MGM Grand Macau casino, “unsuitable.”

via Las Vegas Business Press :: David G. Schwartz : The beginning of the end for Atlantic City?.

I don’t think this is hyperbole. The revenue trends are showing a decline that started slightly before the recession that is more due to competition than the economic slowdown, although the recession hasn’t helped. There are real problems in Atlantic City.

Are there solutions? Yes, and they go beyond making Pacific Avenue a one-way street. As I see it, the city has to be reinvented to appeal to two groups: investors, who will buy or build new casinos and attractions, and visitors, who will fill them. These groups aren’t mutually exclusive, but they require different approaches. The average gambler doesn’t really care about how many levels of scrutiny casino vendors go through before they are licensed, but this sort of thing makes a difference behind the scenes.

It’s not impossible. The city’s been through worse, and the right forward-thinking people can help get it on the right track. The time for action, however, is now. If AC just continues to coast for a few years, it may be too late, at least for this generation.

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