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Atlantic City to Allow Smaller Casinos

7 January 2011 by admin

chris-christieOn Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law legislation that will allow two small boutique casinos to be built in Atlantic City. Prior to this bill’s signing, state law required a minimum of 500 rooms in a casino hotel, but the new law reduces that number to 200, which allows for smaller casinos.

The move is an attempt to boost the economies of Atlantic City and the entire state of New Jersey. As several states around New Jersey have added casinos with table games, Atlantic City has been losing business to those neighboring markets. In the past, someone who lives in Pennsylvania would have to go to Atlantic City to play blackjack or roulette, but now they can play it in their own state. The same goes for Delaware and New York.

In response to the emerging casino markets in the area, some have said that Atlantic City needs to expand their casino market by allowing smaller casinos. Since they require much less money to build and run, it is easier to get more casinos in the city if you allow smaller casinos. Others disagreed, saying that what makes Atlantic City special is the grand, first-class nature of their casino resorts. If they start adding small boutique casinos, the argument goes, nothing will differentiate Atlantic City from the other gambling markets. To opponents of allowing smaller casinos, doing so would be like letting someone put a trailer park in an upscale neighborhood: it would decrease the relative value of everything around it.

hardrockDespite those worries, lawmakers pressed forward with the plan and Governor Christie signed it into law on Wednesday. Under the law, there are two options available. Developers can build a casino with 200 rooms or more that is less than 20,000 square feet or they can build a larger casino that is 30,000 feet or more. The larger casino, though, comes with a requirement that it expand to at least 500 rooms within the first five years of their license.

Governor Christie and other supporters of the law say that it will encourage investment in Atlantic City, where business ventures have been stagnant lately. The early indication is that they are correct. With the ink barely dry on the new law, Hard Rock International is already planning to move forward with their plans to build a $300 million casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

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