The Real Deal New York

State-funded Atlantic City casino — promising or poor choice?

January 04, 2012 11:30AM

While Morgan Stanley had decided to take a $1.4 billion loss on its planned casino in Atlantic City, Revel, the state of New Jersey thought the resort merited rescuing, the New York Times reported. So, Governor Chris Christie stepped up with a $261 million tax credit and a pledge to invest in the lavish sea-side destination in the future. Alas, as with any taxpayer-funded intervention, there are critics. Gambling revenue is down in New Jersey, from $5.2 billion in 2006, to about $3.1 billion last year, the Times said. Revel’s supporters say the 6.3 million-square-foot resort will attract fresh clientele to Atlantic City.

“It’s going to be a game-changer,” Jeffrey Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority told the Times. “It’s going to reach a whole new group of folks who haven’t been to Atlantic City in a very, very long time, if at all.”

Detractors say that if the private sector wouldn’t fund the behemoth development, the state shouldn’t either. “If they believed there was an opportunity to make money, they would have funded this,” Deborah Howlett, the president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, an advocacy group that opposes state financing of Revel, said.

Meanwhile, Revel’s overall affect on Atlantic City remains to be seen. Some say the new casino will push out older, smaller casinos, others point to Atlantic City’s unemployment rate of more than 14 percent, and say that any new development is a welcome one. [NYT]