Atlantic City Undergoing Economic Transition: Mayor

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian remains optimistic about the city's future despite the downfall of the city's gambling industry including two casino closures and the possibility of a third.

"Atlantic City's best days are still ahead of us," Guardian said in a statement Friday following Caesars Entertainment's announcement that Showboat Casino and Hotel will shut down Aug. 31.

He points to an increase in non-gaming revenue as a signal that the Shore destination is in the process of reinventing itself.

"Our hotel occupancy is strong year-round and third-party revenues are increasing," Guardian said. "These are positive trends that have been underappreciated."

Luxury tax revenue, which accounts for the taxes collected on non-gaming services like hotel rooms, concert tickets, alcohol and even beach chair rentals, still lags well behind the amount of dollars gambling brings the city and the state.

Atlantic City's luxury tax generated $35.5 million in 2013, according to a report from the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Last year, gaming revenue garnered $205.2 million in taxes, which is more than $11.5 million less than what was collected in 2012, according to a report from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

The decline in gaming revenue is a concern since the city will have two fewer casinos by the end of the year and possibly a third if Revel Casino Hotel cannot obtain a buyer. But Guardian says the faltering gambling industry is a problem across the country.

"This is not just an Atlantic City issue, this is a state issue," he said. "It is also a gaming industry issue and a national issue because other cities have experienced these same pressures from the expansion of gaming."

These pressures have led the Shore destination's current administration to make developing other aspects of Atlantic City's economy a top priority, Guardian said.

"We are increasing our efforts to deliver more tourist attractions and special events activities for people to enjoy outside of the gaming industry," said Guardian, who listed air shows, parades, lightshows and dining as other reasons for visitors to come to AC.

"Atlantic City is undergoing a massive economic transition."

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