New Jersey feels Atlantic City's slump

Atlantic City skyline at night

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: New Jersey lawmakers are gathering in Atlantic City today and they're not there to gamble. That's actually Atlantic City's problem -- not enough people going there to gamble. Reporter Sally Herships says the whole state is feeling the drop-off.


Sally Herships: A couple of years ago, Atlantic City's entertainment industry employed 50,000 people. But now, that number has dropped by almost a quarter. Jon Hanson is chairman of the Governor's Advisory Commission for New Jersey Gaming. He says part of the problem comes from outside the state.

Jon Hanson: Competition. When the casinos opened in Atlantic City, there were no casinos on the Eastern seaboard.

Today, there are lots of places to roll the dice: New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware. Jim Whelan is a New Jersey State Senator. He says the city is rundown. Not a selling point for cash-strapped tourists.

Jim Whelan: People don't feel safe because they're looking at a block where the dominant characteristic is empty ground and abandoned buildings.

He says Atlantic City needs new casinos.

Whelan: We've had one new casino open in the last 20 years.

And new thinking.

Whelan: Dining, retail, entertainment. We can't just think in isolation of here's a casino, with a bunch of rooms and a bunch of slot machines.

Casino gaming represents one of New Jersey's largest industries: nearly $1 billion in state and local taxes.

I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.

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