Can PokerStars Save Atlantic City?

To put it as the now-fired anchor did to Brian Williams during coverage of the Boston bombing, when it comes to Atlantic City, “we don’t know shit.” Take a look at the latest Region’s Business newspaper on sale at Suburban Station and read this headline:


Then turn the page, and read this headline:


Everyone has an opinion on the fate of dear AC, but what are the facts? Let’s take a quick look.

The Bad News
– Revel
– Trump Plaza will be sold for a low $20 million to Meruelo Group
– Visitors arriving by casino buses are down by 50 percent since 2011
– Nevada continues to be the nation’s No. 1 gaming state, but is now followed by Pennsylvania rather than NJ

The Good News
– AC’s non-gaming revenue rose in 2012 to $1.26 billion
– Occupied hotel rooms in AC rose by 2.6 percent
– Atlantic City is seeing increased business interest resulting online gambling legislation
– The Miss America pageant is back
– Gov. Christie is really, really serious about Atlantic City
– Atlantic City is more equipped for visitors than other shore towns in the wake of Hurricane Sandy

Perhaps the Best Worst news of all is the tentative plan for the online gambling concern PokerStars to take over the former Hilton, aka the Atlantic Club. It’s a bizarre proposition–one that’s several steps closer to reality now that Christie signed that legislation. But, um, PokerStars? Really? The same PokerStars that was investigated and paid all kinds of money to the government and has a rather unsavory reputation?

From the Star-Ledger:

“We plan to invest heavily in the state and help to make it an attractive hub for i-gaming in the U.S. and around the world,” said Eric Hollreiser, a spokesman for PokerStars.

Oh, sure you will. Revel’s management said something similar at the beginning. Everyone has good intentions, even shady online gambling outfits. Everyone has a plan–only their plan is going to work. If the PokerStars deal gets approved, let’s hope it falls squarely into the Good News column this time next year.

Troubled online gambling firm PokerStars betting it can transform Atlantic City [Star-Ledger-