The next Detroit: The catastrophic collapse of Atlantic City
With the closure of almost half of Atlantic City's casinos, Newark set to vote on gambling and casinos or racinos in almost every state, it seems as if the reasons for the very existence of Atlantic City are in serious jeopardy. Israel Joffe Atlantic City, once a major vacation spot during the roaring 20s and 1930s, as seen on HBOs Boardwalk Empire, collapsed when cheap air fare became the norm and people had no reason to head to the many beach town resorts on the East Coast. Within a few decades, the city, known for being an ‘oasis of sin’ during the prohibition era, fell into serious decline and dilapidation. New Jersey officials felt the only way to bring Atlantic City back from the brink of disaster would be to legalize gambling. Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts, first opened its doors in 1978. People stood shoulder to shoulder, packed into the hotel as gambling officially made its way to the East Coast. Folks in the East Coast didn't have to make a special trip all the way to Vegas in order to enjoy some craps, slots, roulette and more. As time wore on, Atlantic City became the premier gambling spots in the country. While detractors felt that the area still remained poor and dilapidated, officials were quick to point out that the casinos didn't bring the mass gentrification to Atlantic City as much as they hoped but the billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs for the surrounding communities was well worth it. Atlantic City developed a reputation as more of a short-stay ‘day-cation’ type of place, yet managed to stand firm against the 'adult playground' and 'entertainment capital of the world' Las Vegas. Through-out the 1980s, Atlantic City would become an integral part of American pop culture as a place for east coast residents to gamble, watch boxing, wrestling, concerts and other sporting events. However in the late 1980s, a landmark ruling considered Native-American reservations to be sovereign entities not bound by state law. It was the first potential threat to the iron grip Atlantic City and Vegas had on the gambling and entertainment industry. Huge 'mega casinos' were built on reservations that rivaled Atlantic City and Vegas. In turn, Vegas built even more impressive casinos. Atlantic City, in an attempt to make the city more appealing to the ‘big whale’ millionaire and billionaire gamblers, and in effort to move away from its ‘seedy’ reputation, built the luxurious Borgata casino in 2003. Harrah’s created a billion dollar extension and other casinos in the area went through serious renovations and re-branded themselves. It seemed as if the bite that the Native American casinos took out of AC and Vegas’ profits was negligible and that the dominance of those two cities in the world of gambling would remain unchallenged. Then Macau, formally a colony of Portugal, was handed back to the Chinese in 1999. The gambling industry there had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly was ended in 2002 and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market. Under the one country, two systems policy, the territory remained virtually unchanged aside from mega casinos popping up everywhere. All the rich ‘whales’ from the far east had no reason anymore to go to the United States to spend their money. Then came the biggest threat. As revenue from dog and horse racing tracks around the United States dried up, government officials needed a way to bring back jobs and revitalize the surrounding communities. Slot machines in race tracks started in Iowa in 1994 but took off in 2004 when Pennsylvania introduced ‘Racinos’ in an effort to reduce property taxes for the state and to help depressed areas bounce back. As of 2013, racinos were legal in ten states: Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia with more expected in 2015. Tracks like Delaware Park and West Virginia's Mountaineer Park, once considered places where local degenerates bet on broken-down nags in claiming races, are now among the wealthiest tracks around, with the best races. The famous Aqueduct race track in Queens, NY, once facing an uncertain future, now possesses the most profitable casino in the United States. From June 2012 to June 2013, Aqueduct matched a quarter of Atlantic City's total gaming revenue from its dozen casinos: $729.2 million compared with A.C.'s $2.9 billion. It has taken an estimated 15 percent hit on New Jersey casino revenue and climbing. And it isn't just Aqueduct that's taking business away from them. Atlantic City's closest major city, Philadelphia, only 35-40 minutes away, and one of the largest cities in America, now has a casino that has contributed heavily to the decline in gamers visiting the area. New Jersey is the third state in the U.S. to have authorized internet gambling. However, these online casinos are owned and controlled by Atlantic City casinos in an effort to boost profits in the face of fierce competition. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas are hoping to join Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands in offering online gambling to their residents. With this in mind, it seems the very niche that Atlantic City once offered as a gambling and entertainment hub for east coast residents is heading toward the dustbin of history. Time will tell if this city will end up like Detroit. However, the fact that they are losing their biggest industry to major competition, much like Detroit did, with depressed housing, casinos bankrupting/closing and businesses fleeing , it all makes Atlantic City’s fate seem eerily similar.
Illinois Racing Board Approves All 2020 Race Dates As Requested
The Illinois Racing Board approved all 2020 race dates as requested. But there was a fair amount of finger-wagging by the board at Churchill Downs, Inc., and a veiled threat that requests for 2021 dates by Arlington/CDI might not go quite as smoothly if they continue to refuse to institute gaming at Arlington. Commissioner MacCauley suggested, through his questioning of CDI, that perhaps CDI should forgo recapture to supplement purses at Arlington if gaming at the track causes such consternation for them. This is pretty much the way I thought the IRB hearing on Sept. 17th was going to go, but I guess CDI's using of, and subsequent betrayal of, Illinois horsemen was too deep a wound to be ignored altogether. I hope that something can be worked out during the veto session of the General Assembly to resolve this dispute as well as issues regarding establishing a casino in the city of Chicago. Failing that, I look to the possibility that Carey and Hawthorne might make a request for all 2021 thoroughbred dates in Chicagoland. By then, the casino that's planned for the 2nd floor of Hawthorne, as well as the new parking structure, will be complete and generating revenue. Also, Heidner and Carey should have the new Tinley harness track up and running as well (perhaps not the permanent grandstand and clubhouse, but still operational). Tinley could then absorb any Suburban Downs 2021 race dates should all 2021 thoroughbred dates be awarded to Hawthorne. CDI has a year to work out whatever concerns they have over bringing gaming to Arlington, and the IRB needs to be ready to bring the hammer down if CDI chooses to use that year to do nothing and hope that the board again accedes to Arlington's request for race dates in 2021. The move would not be unprecedented. In NY, the NYRA is considering moving all race dates at Aqueduct to Belmont, so that the casino currently co-located with Aqueduct could expand. Yonkers Raceway has also signaled that they might consider a move to Belmont as well. MGM just purchased Empire City, and might push Yonkers Raceway out for casino expansion if the track doesn't relocate on its own. ETA - grammar
Why Gov. Cuomo will say "Yes" to NY Cosmos Stadium
For more than just the New York Cosmos, a stadium at Belmont Racetrack makes sense and in IMHO will be approved by Gov. Cuomo. Hold your glee for a moment. NYRA has recently announced its desire to build a premier horse medical and research facility. No indication of where although Belmont is a possibility. Could this fit in Parcel A? Maybe, but Parcel A will no doubt be a racino, that will in 4 or 5 years morphed into a full Vegas style casino; as will Genting's racino at Aqueduct racetrack. There will be 3 casinos licenses up for bid in NYC. These will account for two. In the end, Parcel A will be far more lucrative for the state than a stadium on Parcel B. The stadium however is an important component of the state's goal at Belmont Racetrack. Which is to create a 24/7 detination for locals & tourists. The casino license alone will be auctioned for more than what the Cosmos plan to invest, if what the state reaped with the recent awarded licenses upstate are an indication. When the ESDC asked the bidders to resubmit with only Parcel B in mind, one can reasonably assume, one plan in the bunch, fits the state's master plan for Belmont. They had the option of rejecting all the bids. What's the state's master plan? Well a Commissioned Study Panel, announced months prior to it issuing a report on that plan, that it will not issue a report. Gov. Cuomo is fond of disbanding commission he creates. Behind the scenes political negotiations were taking place to re-privatize NYRA. The Governor got his wishes. He will appoint the majority of Directors & all NYRA's profits will go into the NYS General Fund. The Governor can say to the public, see money for education, when in reality it will be money to plug budget holes. There will be a lot of money. Profit potential at NYRA are huge going forward, if managed properly. The casinos, year round racing that feeds it's national cable network; people make live bets on these races nationally from their couches. Profits has steadily increased at all 3 tracks in recent Quarters. Many people believe that all racing would be transfer to Aqueduct because Belmont's track configuration is not conducive to winter & fall racing. Recent renovations & developments at Belmont indicates that racing will continue & increase at the tracks. Racing at Belmont is a huge New York State brand. It's to valuable to abandon. This was proven two years ago when more than 110 thousand people showed up to The Belmont Stakes. Problem for the State, everyone left at the same time. Can you imagine. It highlighted the need for improved LIRR transportation and the need to entice people to stick around after the Stakes and the need to find a way to get a percentage of those people to come to Belmont daily. A casino will help and so will a multi- use stadium. Post Belmont Stakes concert anyone? What does a stadium offers? For one it will not be just 16- 20 NY Cosmos games. Consider a NWSL team, International friendlies & tournaments, USNT games, T20 International Cricket, college football, NHL & International games, events & exhibitions, and concerts. All of this will drives foot traffic to the casino and racetrack. For all that New York City offers, it lacks a quality medium size stadium. Yankees & Citifield no matter how configured, are baseball specific. Barclays and MSG are well used. NY Cosmos Stadium offers NYC a medium size venue and more. The hotel, restaurants, park, community space & supermarket are also needed. All constructed with out taxpayers money. A stadium would also be huge benefits to NASL & Independent soccer. For the Cosmos owners & sister company OWS, The potentials are massive.
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