Casino executives: Time to fix Atlantic City as New York casinos loom

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (AP) — The likelihood of more casinos opening in New York has Atlantic City casino bosses worried, but they believe there’s still time to fix the resort’s problems before it does. occur.

Speaking at a forum sponsored by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber on Friday, executives from Hard Rock, Resorts, Tropicana and Bally’s all said more casinos in New York were inevitable.

New York receives proposals from companies interested in building a casino in Manhattan or other parts of the city, which would join the city’s only casino currently in operation, Resorts World in Queens.

New Jersey casino executives say Atlantic City still has time to shore up its own business to be more competitive once that happens.

“New York is coming,” said Joe Lupo, president of Atlantic City‘s Hard Rock Casino, whose parent company not only bids for the right to build a casino in New York, but also retains the option to build a casino. build another in northern New Jersey. at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford if New Jersey voters ever allow that to happen.

“We have time in Atlantic City to really make an impact,” he said.

The general consensus during Friday’s panel was that Atlantic City has at least three or four years before New York joins the casino fray to fix issues like blight, poor infrastructure and pot-hole streets, and neighborhoods dirty that don’t feel safe for visitors. .

If Atlantic City, its casinos and state officials can work together to address these concerns, the impact of one or more New York casinos could be far less than it otherwise would be, executives said. .

Jim Allen, Hard Rock’s global president, said last month that he expects the actual selection process to begin in late summer or early fall, assuming legislation necessary to license up to three casinos be enacted by then. Many large gaming and hospitality companies have also expressed interest in building a casino in New York.

Leaders said it was essential that Atlantic City lead a sustained “clean and safe” initiative.

“If we could wake up and Atlantic City was this perfect beach community, we would stand up to these threats,” said Mark Giannantonio, president of Resorts. “Make Atlantic City as great as it can be in the next two or three years. Look at what’s right in front of you: cleanliness and safety issues.

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small made a clean and safe initiative a big part of his plans for this year during his State of the City address last month.

“Clean and safe, clean and safe, clean and safe: that has to be the mantra,” said Paul Juliano, senior vice president of Bally’s Corp. “You change perception with reality.”

Participants in Friday’s panel said Atlantic City has certain advantages that a casino in Manhattan or elsewhere in the city cannot match.

“We have something special here in Atlantic City,” said Jacqueline Grace, senior vice president of the Tropicana, of the ocean and the boardwalk. “It’s hard to compete with that. People will always want to come down to the shore.

Lupo said specific, concrete plans need to be made to advance some of the efforts already underway in the city.

“I’m tired of hearing ‘Atlantic City will be great again’ without specifics,” he said. “We need state funding and real city planning. The streets must be paved. We need more light. There need to be more police on the streets.

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