Three Strikes for Atlantic City



It hasn’t been a great week for Atlantic City.

First, Caesars has indicated that they won’t close the Showboat if they can sell it. While this sounds like good news, it’s not so great for Revel and the state’s $261 million investment in it. Showboat’s not carrying the same debt as its northern boardwalk neighbor, so it may be more attractive to companies looking for a foothold in the Atlantic City market, like Hard Rock. 

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Maybe Atlantic City Does Have a Non-Gambling Future

How about some good news about Atlantic City as we head into the Fourth of July Weekend?

On June 19th — the same day Revel filed for bankruptcy part two — Garden Pier re-opened. The pier, which is on the north end of the boardwalk between Revel and Showboat, had been heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy. It’s home to both the Atlantic City Historical Museum and Atlantic City Art Center, so this was a big win for the non-gaming tourism sector of Atlantic City that they’re open to the public again. Both museums are free (yes free!).

That same week, Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian announced that the beach at Boardwalk and Park Place will now be the city’s official gay friendly beach.

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Will Revel Be a Monument to Atlantic City’s Broken Dreams?

Photo | Jen A. Miller

Photo | Jen A. Miller

On Thursday morning last week, I stepped onto the escalator from Revel’s lobby to head down to the Boardwalk. It was windy. I could tell not just because I could see dune grass blowing in the breeze, but because I could feel it — inside the building. The wind hit me in the face, and shook the sculptures hanging from the ceiling, which I had been told on my pre-opening tour of Revel weighed as much as a car — each.

That afternoon, Revel would file for bankruptcy for the second time since opening in 2012, attaching to it a threat to shut down by August 18th if it did not find a buyer. If that does happen, it’ll join Showboat, which will close in August, and the Atlantic Club, which closed in January  as boardwalk gambling ghosts.

A lot of things went wrong with Revel, mostly that it was a casino conceived at the peak of Atlantic City’s gambling monopoly, and opened near the bottom. It came onto the market with far too much debt, and took an even greater risk in trying to place itself above the typical Atlantic City gambler by limiting the number of slot machines and banning smoking. Now, the $2.4 billion casino is on the verge of closing, taking a $260 million investment from the state of New Jersey with it. Read more »

I Went to the New Scores Outdoor “Gentleman’s” Club and It Wasn’t Horrible


In September, an outpost of Scores, a strip club chain, opened in the Taj Mahal. In May, they took over part of the Taj Mahal’s deck and opened an outdoor sports bar. So of course I had to check it out, which I did on Wednesday night. The strip club (they would prefer I call it a gentleman’s club, but I’m going to go ahead with “strip”) is on the second floor of the Taj Mahal, facing the ocean, though obviously you couldn’t peek inside. The deck is right outside the club, on the south end of the building — right over the Hard Rock Cafe.

It looks like any other outdoor venue: long bar with TVs showing ESPN, and craft beers on tap (I had a Yards Love Stout and a Curious Traveler, $6 each, which isn’t bad considering I paid $3 for a hot tea and $3.25 for orange juice at Revel). The bulk of the space was made up of clusters of couches. Of course there was thumping club mix, and fancy lights. The only difference, when I was there, was a few platforms on which I assumed there’d be dancing. It was more outdoor than the new Margaritaville bar up the boardwalk at Resorts.

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Jersey Shore Beach Smoking Ban Bill Has a Gigantic Loophole


A bill that would ban smoking on New Jersey’s beaches has taken another step closer to becoming a reality, but with a loophole big enough for a Sea Isle ice truck.

The beach smoking ban bill, which was introduced last summer, would prohibit smoking in New Jersey’s parks and beaches. It just passed the state senate, but with an amendment tacked on at the last minute that would allow towns to set up designed smoking areas on up to 20% of their beaches.

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Battered by Sandy, Ocean Grove Boardwalk Finally Returns


In the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, even as millions of dollars in donations poured in for her victims, I said that things were going to get a whole lot worse before they got better.

The Ocean Grove boardwalk is an example of that.

Ocean Grove is a small town in New Jersey’s northern beaches between Asbury Park and Avon by the Sea. Ocean Grove calls itself “God’s Square Mile at the Jersey Shore.” The town can get away with putting church and state together because the town is owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. If you buy a home in Ocean Grove, you don’t own the land. You’re signing a lease with OGCMA, most of which have terms of “99 years in perpetuity.” They own the beaches, too, which is why they’re closed on Sunday morning. (Side note: Despite their religious bent, you can still BYOB in Ocean Grove while the practice is still banned in Ocean City.)

During Superstorm Sandy, Ocean Grove lost a chunk of its fishing pier, and its boardwalk was destroyed.

Ocean Grove, like many distressed Jersey Shore towns, applied for $1 million in aid from FEMA to rebuild its boardwalk.

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Guy Fieri Is Coming to Atlantic City: Nucky Knuckle Sandwiches Anyone?

Photo | Denise Truscello

Photo | Denise Truscello

It’s official: Guy Fieri — shock top, blond Food Network host Guy Fieri — is opening a restaurant in Atlantic City.

Guy Fieri’s Chophouse will open this summer at Bally’s, taking the spot that was once The Reserve plus the casino’s former poker room space (Bally’s new poker space is World Series of Poker branded. Fieri’s restaurant, like The Reserve, will be a steakhouse, though the concept is less traditional and more “simple with a twist,” according to the announcement.

I know people don’t like Fieri, but he’s not the worst thing that could come to Atlantic City.

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Uber, UberX Want to Be Jersey Shore’s Designated Driver


Uber is continuing its march across New Jersey by adding services for the South Jersey Shore, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

Today the company announced that both regular Uber (what it calls Uber BLACK) and UberX will start rolling on Friday, and will be most active on Friday from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Saturday from noon to 5 a.m.; and Sunday from noon to 3 a.m.. Ballpark prices put rides from Avalon to Sea Isle at $11 on uberX and $24 on Uber BLACK and from Sea Isle to Atlantic City at $56 on uberX and $118 on Uber BLACK — add more if you’re calling for an SUV in all cases.

My feelings are mixed.

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The Five Jersey Shore Stories of the Summer

Memorial Day is just around the corner, which means the start of what will hopefully be another sunny summer at the Jersey Shore.

For the purposes of stormy Friday daydreaming, here are five downashore topics we’ll be talking about this year:

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The New Jersey Casino Experiment Has Failed

AtlanticCityHow low can Atlantic City casinos go? The numbers for 2013 aren’t looking very good — for N.J.’s gambling resort, or for casinos across the country.

Last year, Atlantic City’s casinos brought in $235 million in gambling earnings. That’s bad — 35 percent less than 2012 —and even worse given the following:

  • The 2013 number includes the introduction of the much ballyhooed Internet gambling that was supposed to be the latest and greatest thing to save Atlantic City. Apparently not.
  • The 2013 earnings are still down 35 percent even when being compared to those of 2012, a year that included Superstorm Sandy. The storm shut down casinos entirely and slowed business for months after.

It’s not getting any better this year, either.

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