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2012.04.27 OPED AC Key to NJ Comeback

2012.04.27 OPED AC Key to NJ Comeback

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Published by Chris Brown
The revitalization of Atlantic City and its gaming/tourist industry vital to the economic health of South Jersey and the state. North Jersey Legislators who are putting their interests ahead of the entire state are not only wrong, but they’re being counterproductive to our efforts to create more jobs here.
The revitalization of Atlantic City and its gaming/tourist industry vital to the economic health of South Jersey and the state. North Jersey Legislators who are putting their interests ahead of the entire state are not only wrong, but they’re being counterproductive to our efforts to create more jobs here.

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Published by: Chris Brown on Apr 27, 2012
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04/27/2012

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Atlantic City Is Key To New Jersey’s Comeback
By Assemblymen John Amodeo and Chris A. Brown
(New Jersey Legislative District 2, parts of Atlantic County)
Supporters of a Meadowlands casino have been pushing for weeks about how casinogaming is a dying industry and New Jersey can’t compete against other states. Both statementsare untrue, but the conclusion that building a casino at the Meadowlands will somehow solve thatproblem is just wrong.Let’s be truthful. This isn’t about furious out-of-state competition or a stricken economy.Horse racing advocates want a casino in the Meadowlands because racetracks are dying a slowdeath and casinos are profitable.Speaking recently was a former chairman of the Sports and Exposition Authority, whichoperates the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park Racetracks. In the Assembly, the sponsor of thelegislation to make way for Meadowlands gaming has long supported racing. They want to propup horse racing purses because track attendance has fallen by 36 percent and profits have beencut in half over the last five years.Risking Atlantic City’s $3.8 billion successful gaming industry to help boost horse racingwould make even the most desperate gambler fold. Horse racing struggled to net only $118million last year, even with $170 million in purse subsidies since 2004. It’s crazy andshortsighted.Unlike horse racing, Atlantic City is not losing customers. Out-of-state competition onlysplit gamers’ time between Atlantic City and other states. Studies also show they aresignificantly more satisfied with their experience in Atlantic City than in Delaware, Connecticut,Pennsylvania and New York. When the industry rebounds – and it will – these new competitorswill be the ones in trouble.
 
The plan to reinvent Atlantic City, put into place by Governor Christie and theLegislature, is a game-changer. Instead of dividing up the market further like Meadowlandssupporters propose, our strategy is to get gamers to spend more, by offering more than gambling,and attract new audiences. With a beach, boardwalk, fine dining, vibrant nightclubs and A-listentertainment, the real question is, How can any place really compete with Atlantic City?”The new AC Tourism District has already piqued interest and investment. The $2.4billion mega-resort Revel just recently opened and The Golden Nugget spent $150 million inupgrades. Borgata invested another $50 million to remodel their hotel rooms while Resorts andThe Atlantic Club are also rebranding. This brings a new energy and excitement which shouldhelp ensure the future success of Atlantic City and our state.And the Atlantic City comeback has already begun. Just look at the most recent numbersfor March: convention bookings, booked room nights, passenger car visits and overnight buspassengers are all up from a year ago. More people are visiting the welcome centers and goingto the website to plan their trips to Atlantic City. These trends started before the new Revelopened.We’re encouraging visitors – both new and those who haven’t come in years – to comeand play in Atlantic City because this is not your grandfathers’ or even your fathers’ resortanymore. With nearly $4 billion worth of potential customer spending identified by marketinganalysts, we are spending $20 million this year and $30 million next year in full-pressadvertising campaign to rebrand and erase many of the pre-2003 perceptions of the old AtlanticCity. It’s become a world-class destination on the cutting edge in dining, retail andentertainment.

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