Editorial: Casino catastrophe
Is anybody in the common-wealth paying attention to what’s going on down in Atlantic City, N.J.?
Back in 1976, when the first casino was built in the famous boardwalk city, developers told officials that they’d hit solid gold.
And at first, it seemed to be true. Tens of thousands of gamblers flocked to the Shore, driving down from New York or north Jersey or from Philadelphia. The Turnpike and the Parkway from chock-full of buses, limos and just plain folks eager to try their luck and take in a show or two.
It was just like Las Vegas, only closer.
But it wasn’t.
Every racetrack tout, every pimp with a few bucks in is pocket, every mugger or con man within 200 hundred miles headed for the new casinos.
It wasn’t a Las Vegas crowd, it was a OTB parlor crowd, and crime soared.
The city, using its new tax revenue, put on more cops, and eventually got a handle on things, but without the built-in isolation of the desert that Las Vegas enjoys, it was hard to keep the crooks out and make things safe for the average Joe.
Vegas cops struggle, but Atlantic City never had a chance.
And then, when the economy began to sag and new casinos were built in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, profits sagged, and things really got bad. Shore resort gaming revenue fell from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.9 billion last year.
As a result, the Showboat Atlantic City is set to close on Aug. 31 and the Trump Plaza on Sept. 16 ... and the Revel is bankrupt. The city stands to lose about a third of its property-tax revenue — about $75 million — if all four casinos go dark.
As many as 8,000 Atlantic City casino workers could be without work by the end of the summer.
Is anyone in Springfield reading these stories and considering ALL the possibilities?