[toc]Atlantic City may be staring bankruptcy in the face, but a closer look at the goings on throughout the city will reveal several signs of an impending turnaround.
The next year or two is going to be a tough slog for the cash-strapped municipality, but there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. If Atlantic City has proven anything over the years, it’s that the city and its population are extremely resilient.
Here are some reasons you can be optimistic about Atlantic City’s future.
7. Steel Pier gets a lifeline
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) has thrown the Steel Pier a lifeline, covering a $1.1 million debt owed to Firestone Financial.
Firestone was attempting to seize a number of the rides currently housed on the pier, which would have essentially turned the Steel Pier – which dates back to 1898 – into another Atlantic City graveyard.
The Steel Pier may get a bit more business in the coming years now that the Trump Taj Mahal (which sits across the Boardwalk) has emerged from bankruptcy under the stewardship of Carl Icahn and Tropicana resorts.
By itself, this isn’t much of a story. But when combined with similar efforts to maintain and expand on existing non-gaming infrastructure in the city, it’s a clear signal that Atlantic City could regain its place as a family destination.
6. Icahn approved to take over Taj
As noted above, the Trump Taj Mahal looks like it’s poised to rise from the ashes, now that the takeover by Carl Icahn and Tropicana Resorts has been approved by the New Jersey CCC.
Icahn plans to invest $100 million back into the property, with the caveat that he’s withholding the bulk of that money and will only spend it if the North Jersey casino referendum fails.
Just two weeks after receiving approval to take over The Taj, Tropicana has already announced the reopening of the casino’s poker room (shuttered since February of 2015), along with several new promotions designed to bring players back to the property – part of an initial $15 million investment into the property.
5. Sports betting on the horizon
One of the biggest short-term boosts for New Jersey casinos and racetracks would be the addition of sports betting.
The state is currently playing a game of legal cat and mouse with the NCAA and some professional sports leagues as it tries to find a way to bring legalized sports betting to New Jersey, by going or around or perhaps gutting PASPA.
Sports betting still seems like it’s a couple of years off, but most analysts agree that it is inevitable.
4. Revel is slated to reopen
At some point the Revel will reopen, and let’s hope developer Glenn Straub will be true to his word and reinvent the property as a comprehensive entertainment complex where gambling and the hotel are just a part of the equation.
Hopefully Straub will not make the mistake of reopening the massive complex as a hotel and casino, a business model that proved disastrous for Revel’s previous owners.
If Revel, a beautiful and enormous property with tons of potential, can be an asset instead of a liability, it could be a boon for Atlantic City.
3. City needs 2,400 workers
An even better sign that Atlantic City is on the precipice of an upturn is the recent report that the city’s casinos are looking to collectively fill some 2,400 positions, an increase of 1,000 job openings compared to this time last year. Nine hundred of these jobs are permanent positions, and 600 are full-time jobs.
More economic prosperity could be on the horizon if:
- Revel reopens.
- Carl Icahn makes good on his Trump Taj Mahal investment.
- The sale of the former Showboat Casino can be concluded and the property repurposed.
Of course, the city shed roughly 8,000 jobs in 2014 when the Atlantic Club, Revel, Showboat, and Trump Plaza closed, and the city’s unemployment remains well above the national average.
2. Resorts gets a $20 million mortgage
Another good sign for the city was the recent procurement of a $20 million mortgage by Resorts Casino. KeyBank’s willingness to give Resorts such a large amount for reinvestment bodes well for other Atlantic City operators and businesses.
What Resorts plans on doing with the money beyond the reported $11 million set aside for room renovations is unclear.
There were rumors a couple years ago, however, that Resorts’ iGaming partner PokerStars intended to build a $10 million poker room at the property – a number pretty close to what Resorts will have left after the room renovations.
1. Will the North Jersey subsidy be good or bad for AC?
Casino expansion beyond the borders of Atlantic City is a polarizing issue. Some see it as a way to bolster the seaside resort town’s casino industry, while others feel it will be the coup de grâce for it.
You can read up on New Jersey’s proposal to expand casino gaming beyond Atlantic City here.
This will be decided on the ballot in November, and however New Jersey residents vote will likely determine the path forward for Atlantic City in the short-term.