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Atlantic City on verge of becoming state controlled

Glenn Townes | 2/8/2016, 11:22 a.m.
Atlantic City officials and state administrators are locked in a heated battle on whether the beleaguered resort town should be ...
Atlantic City DOAC.COM

Atlantic City officials and state administrators are locked in a heated battle on whether the beleaguered resort town should be taken over and managed by the state, officials recently announced in the seaside town.

At a recent press conference at one of AC's few remaining casinos—Harrah's, Mayor Don Guardian and several other city and Atlantic County leaders contend the state is planning to take control of the day-to-day running of the financially strapped shore town. Guardian and others said filing for bankruptcy protection—similar to what officials did in the city of Detroit in 2013--may indeed be the only way to prevent state officials from implementing “a hostile” takeover of Atlantic City.

The heated debacle stems, at least in part, from State Senate President Steve Sweeney's recent referendum to allow two new casinos to be built in northern New Jersey—a move Guardian and AC City Council members vehemently oppose, claiming additional casinos in the northern part of the Garden State would greatly impact operations in AC. In a statement to the press, Guardian said, “No one is going to benefit from that.” He added, “Adding a casino in North Jersey and telling the people of North Jersey that it will provide tens of thousands of jobs is a fallacy. It's a lie.”

Despite moderate increases in revenue during the past several months—collectively at AC's remaining eight casinos, according to recent figures from the New Jersey's Gaming Enforcement Division—Atlantic City gambling revenue has been cut in half since 2006 and significantly impacting city coffers. Reaction to the possible state takeover has been mixed in whom to blame for the deterioration of AC.

One blogger posted, “AC has become a sewer. If you leave the Boardwalk area, you may as well take your life in your hands.” Another posted, “Casino/hotel unions gouged their members and forced the closings of several casinos by making outrageous demands. AC {officials} have no one to blame but themselves and the city will descend into another inner city ghetto.” A decision about whether AC will become state controlled is expected in the next few weeks.