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Atlantic City Gets Vegas Makeover

26 June 2003

ATLANTIC CITY – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: “Atlantic City is trying to go from shabby to chic.

“The opening of a $1 billion hotel and casino, the first major property added to the New Jersey seaside gambling resort in 13 years, is spurring rivals to spend millions of dollars to appeal to new and younger gamblers. The goal: Lose the reputation as a destination for busloads of slot-machine players, and become more of a hipster alternative to Las Vegas.

“Some of the improvements are already on display. Caesars recently added a high-end slot-machine lounge, as well as beach cabanas offering cocktails on the strand. Bally's just underwent a $55 million renovation.

“The catalyst for the Atlantic City makeover is the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which is scheduled to open July 3. To some, it has the potential to jump-start a city best known for its vintage boardwalk, and for inspiring a Depression-era board game, into a destination with tony shopping and dining for people who have little interest in the slots.

“Atlantic City is hoping to follow the Las Vegas pattern, where the opening of the Mirage hotel in 1989 is credited with sparking the city's transformation into a 24-hour theme park. Since the early 1990s, Vegas has moved considerably away from its gaming roots, adding everything from high-end restaurants like Spago to fashionable stores like Prada.

“…In all, Atlantic City operators including Aztar, Park Place Entertainment Corp., and Harrah's Entertainment Inc. are spending roughly $700 million to dress up their own local casinos.

“…The Atlantic City makeover is long overdue. The past decade has seen an explosion of gambling options, from riverboats to elaborate casinos on Indian reservations -- and people are lapping it up.

“…Currently, gambling revenues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City are roughly equal -- each bringing in $4.3 billion in 2000, according to a study by Rutgers University School of Business. But visitors spend only a tenth as much on nongambling activities in Atlantic City -- about $12 per visitor in Atlantic City versus $120 in Las Vegas over the course of an average stay…”

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