Atlantic City needs to think of itself as a destination.
This is an example of a failure all around. Think about it. Atlantic City is trying to reinvent itself once again. Have you heard this story before? I know I have.
As the number of casinos in this world-famous resort is contracting once again, Atlantic City blames the decline in casino business on competitive pressures from legalized gaming (Atlantic City does not like to say gambling) in nearby states like Pennsylvania and Maryland.
This is Atlantic City. World-famous beaches seemingly a mile wide. A boardwalk that seems to go on forever with its wide wooden walkway frames. Cool breezes from the ocean all summer long, Salt Water Taffy (“the original Salt Water Taffy, either James’s or Fralinger’s depending on whose claim you care to embrace) and Taylors Pork Roll. The scent of popcorn, peanuts and peppers and onions on every breeze. The sound of the waves and famous old hotels and institutions like Dock’s Oyster House.
Yet the marketing folks at Atlantic City can’t compete with the likes of landlocked casinos in Pennsylvania and Maryland. New Jersey, in its arrogance, never invested in the town itself, leaving a decaying and dangerous neighborhood just a block away from the famous boardwalk and its glitzy casinos.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the Brigantine casinos on the other side of town, sandwiching an un-walkable and rundown series of abandoned buildings and poor residential neighborhoods. Atlantic City is no Vegas with its Strip and downtown and miles of desert wasteland. Atlantic City is a wasteland of man-made neglect bordered by the best nature can provide.
Atlantic City needs to reinvent itself for sure. It had everything one could ask for when the age of gaming opened with Resorts International decades ago. It had everything including a monopoly. Those in charge lived in the arrogance of a monopoly and never reinvested in the town itself and it acted like a monopoly when it pretended that gambling was an unmentionable.
If marketers can’t sell a casino environment in a real resort, they should find another line of work. Maybe the razing of the Traymore Hotel in the 70’s destroyed more than a memorable boardwalk view. Maybe it destroyed that city’s ability to understand what it really was. A destination.