Do tourists visiting Harrah’s casinos in Atlantic City know they’ve landed in the middle of a war?
The donnybrook goes back to mid-October, when Harrah’s launched its “Total Rewards” shuttles, providing free transport between the company’s four properties and sparking an outcry from the Atlantic City Jitney Association — the umbrella group for operators of the private, independently owned shuttles — who say Harrah’s is trying to run the beloved mini-buses out of business.
The two groups haven’t always been at odds; they tried to work out a deal on a collaborative jitney, but couldn’t reach a compromise. And though the Harrah’s press office insists it’s “keeping an open door” to a deal with the ACJA, a company official told the Atlantic City Press, “The association was unwilling to meet our specific customer-required criteria.” Retorts the ACJA’s Matt Stanton: “They wanted a door-to-door service, which by law we can’t provide. Also, we offered the lowest rate we could, but they’re claiming we made the bid too high.”
Since the swanky black-and-gold Total Rewards shuttles (each features a plasma TV) hit the streets, the jitney association reports average daily losses of 35 to 50 percent in revenue. So the ACJA created a new website, SaveTheJitneys.com, which casts the fight in David and Goliath terms: “The shuttle is nothing more than a gimmick to keep gamblers inside Harrah’s mousetrap. This is corporate greed, pure and simple.”