Atlantic City is a resort city with a relatively brief history. Founded and incorporated in May 1854, Atlantic City was considered prime real estate by developers, given its magnificent location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the marshlands.
Situated in South Jersey, some 60+ miles south-east of Philadelphia, and just along the coastline from Long Beach Island, Atlantic City would initially become a resort geared around improving the health of urban communities at Philadelphia.
Having been established for over 20 years, Atlantic City registered around half-a-million visitors to the town via municipal rail. The Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railway would become a hugely strategic development, which would become fully operational from December 1883.
The town built its first aesthetically pleasing boardwalk to attract the many thousands of visitors to its beach. It was enormous in length – running from Longport to Atlantic City – and was a prominent feature for tourists prior to sustaining unprecedented damage during the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944.
Boom and bust on the Boardwalk
As the clock ticked into the 20th century, the resort experienced immense expansion, with a string of property developers constructing hotel resorts along the boardwalk and the surrounding area. Resorts such as the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel and the Claridge would become iconic places to stay, with the latter – looming large at some 24 storeys – nicknamed the “Skyscraper by the Sea”.
The “boom” era for Atlantic City undoubtedly occurred amid Prohibition. The back rooms of the many hotels and restaurants would offer liquor and card games, with very little likelihood of the resorts being caught and reprimanded. It was for this reason alone that Atlantic City would eventually label itself as “The World’s Playground”. You can check out more information about Prohibition in Atlantic City at http://atlanticcityexperience.org/.
Unfortunately, the “boom” period was soon followed by a period of “bust”. Atlantic City was not alone in experiencing significant hardship and economic downturn in the aftermath of World War II. In fact, a spate of resorts along the east coast of America were plagued with economic issues such as poverty and corruption. As the automobile revolution reared its head, along with the increasingly available airlines, Atlantic City became an afterthought in the minds of many of its former tourists, who sought more glamorous climes in the Bahamas or Florida.
As we moved from the 1960s and into the 70s, Atlantic City’s once proud hotel resorts were experiencing alarmingly high vacancy rates. Something had to be done to redefine and breathe new life into the city. Subsequently, the residents of New Jersey agreed to legalize gambling in the city, transforming it into a gaming hub for the east coast of America in 1976. Many of the existing hotel resorts were replaced, but the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel remained despite experiencing a comprehensive rebrand to the Resorts International.
Early success wasn’t forthcoming for Atlantic City, at least until the arrival of major heavyweight boxing title fights. The likes of Mike Tyson agreed to stage many of his historic bouts in Atlantic City during the 1980s, which helped cement the city’s potential as a hub for entertainment and leisure.
According to the New York Times, the resort was also redefining its dining scene, in a bid to reach out to fanatical foodies as well as gamblers, although it was geared more towards fantastic local seafood rather than the latest modern-day diets like the Keto diet, which you can discover more about via https://glob-intel.com/.
Resorts like Caesar’s, Bally’s, Harrah’s and the Golden Nugget all reared their head as we moved into the 1980s, bringing more than a hint of the swagger and razzamatazz of Las Vegas to the east coast.
The modern-day challenges facing Atlantic City
While Atlantic City may have stolen a march on the likes of Las Vegas in the 1980s, the resort’s competitors more than made up ground during the 90s. The Las Vegas Strip experienced multi-billion-dollar investment in reshaping and redefining the Strip as an experience-led destination. Nearby Connecticut also legalized gambling and opened its doors to two major casino resorts during this decade, while the dawn of the Millennium was the incentive for Philadelphia to construct its own metropolitan casinos.
Thanks to the rise of super-fast broadband connectivity, those living in New Jersey but unable – or unwilling – to venture into Atlantic City, have also been able to experience the ritz and glitz of the second biggest gaming destination in the US by visiting 888casino. This platform is fully licensed to all NJ-based residents and has been providing state-of-the-art casino games in the Garden State via https://us.888casino.com/ since 2013.
The global recession of the late 2000s also hit Atlantic City hard. The increasingly tough economic climate meant that a string of ambitious casino projects were put on the back burner; including the Sands Atlantic City and the MGM Grand Atlantic City. The latter was particularly damaging for the city, given the excitement around having a new resort capable of staging live sporting events as well as casino games.
The Revel Casino was another fine example of the city’s tried and failed attempts to revitalize its flagging casino scene. Within months of its opening, Revel was forced to file for bankruptcy, following a decline in the property’s value. Despite restructuring its assets, the resort was forced to close its doors for the last time in September 2014.
What does the future hold?
It’s not known whether casino gaming has a long-term future in Atlantic City. For many years now, Governor Christie has threatened to take the city under full state control, which would arguably put to bed any ambitious casino development plans. The reality for Atlantic City is that without an ambitious regeneration project on the scale of Las Vegas’ 1990s rebirth, it’s unlikely to curry enough favour with gamers to warrant visiting.
Thanks to the rise of online gambling too, it’s hard to imagine millennials and Generation Z having the inclination to venture into land-based resorts in Atlantic City if they can get the same authenticity and interaction from the confines of their own homes.