It's been 10 years since I last visited Atlantic City and left my money on the blackjack tables. It was early spring and I was on a road trip through the mid-Atlantic region. I took a stroll along the Boardwalk, eating saltwater taffy and pulling my coat close against a chilly breeze.
I'm a cheap gambler, and after I went through the budget I'd allotted myself, I set out looking for something else to do. Once I'd walked the Boardwalk and bought a couple souvenirs, I didn't have many options in the casino area. Altantic City didn't have the many entertainment alternatives that Las Vegas does, and the neighborhood immediately beyond the casinos had an unsavory feel. I ended up driving into the suburbs and going to a movie.
In the 10 years that followed, the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa opened, then hit bad times. Plans for other casinos were shelved.
This week, the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved a plan for the revitalization of the Boardwalk and casino area that sounds much like what people were saying the area needed a decade ago. It comes as the state considers whether to allow casino gambling elsewhere in New Jersey.
The economics of casinos have changed during that decade as well. Now, only a handful of states don't allow gambling of some form, whether in casinos, at racetracks, bingo parlors or lotteries. Would I return to Atlantic City? I wouldn't go out of my way to avoid it, but I've got plenty of more attractive alternatives.
Read this report on Atlantic City's revitalization plans.