Has Atlantic City Reached the End?

Casino Profits Are Falling. Sea Levels Are Rising. What’s Next for AC?

Story by Jake Blumgart

Photography by Paul Gargagliano

Published on May 6, 2013

Atlantic City casinos withstood the pounding winds and rain when Hurricane Sandy hit last fall. Much of the rest of the resort city did not. It was an incident symbolic of the stratification that has persisted since New Jersey legalized gambling in 1976, when fortress-like gaming complexes started rising above the Boardwalk as the city outside faltered. But lately, even the once-lucrative seaside casino industry is hurting: Profits have fallen since nearby Pennsylvania jumped on the gaming bandwagon in 2006, while a sleek and highly anticipated Revel Casino has proven a spectacular failure. As Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie trade barbs, everyone from executives to cocktail servers say that the gambling mecca needs to diversify if is to survive. Examining the politics and economics that have AC staring down disaster on all fronts, Jake Blumgart weighs the odds of a second — or third — chance for America’s Favorite Playground.

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