The future of our entertainment industry is teetering on the edge of devastation. Atlantic City is in decline. Racing is bleeding to death. Their desperate plight illustrates why government run business endeavors so frequently fail. Politicians react too slowly to market trends, for the obvious reasons.
Arguing myopic regional viewpoints and defending the status-quo won’t save racing, or bring the hay days back to Atlantic City. We need to act. Entertainment venues draw thousands of people, supporting the local communities and numerous diverse satellite businesses, employing tens of thousands of people, and anchoring 1/4 of our agricultural open space.
Atlantic City’s failure to thrive can blight South Jersey’s economy. The competitive factor of our neighbors jumping into the game has changed everything. The original policy of restricting gambling games to Atlantic City, and requiring casino’s build large hotels, cannot be retained if either industry is to survive.
BUT! It is amazing how fast and far a man can run, when you untie his legs. We need to set the gambling industry free of their island prison and remove the restrictions causing the race tracks to fail. Expand venue types in multiple locations within the state, positioned to compete with neighbors.
The questions politicians must ask themselves are: How do we save racing? How do we revitalize Atlantic City? Where are the best locations for new gambling zones? What other issues are, or can be, linked to these revitalization efforts? There is only one objective: Regrow our state’s free market economy.
We can save horse racing by taking the hobbles off. Between races customers want other games. No additional games = no customers = no racing industry. Lease the tracks to racing associations for $1. Give them a chance to recover from decades of neglect, but retain public ownership of the open space.
Multiple new gambling zones need to be located where the market potential is greatest. Camden, in the heart of the Philadelphia metroplex, is a better location to attract the youthful “hip” market from both sides of the Delaware River. Two northern cities in the New York metroplex should also be considered.
Revitalization of Atlantic City has unique challenges. They need to develop innovative solutions, attracting new markets to fill their hotel rooms and stores. One market to consider, particularly suited to hotel complexes, is catering to the changing needs of the retiring – and well to-do -, Baby Boomer generation. http://dwboomersurvey.com/trends.asp
We face a significant economic challenge with over 7,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day. The demand for assisted living will continue to increase as the tsunami of Boomers scale back housing and overwhelm existing facilities, globally. Converting portions of hotel complexes for permanent residences can help stabilize Atlantic City’s economy, while beginning to address housing 78 million aging boomers. Residency packages can help stabilize hotel cash flow, creating a cushion from seasonal fluctuations or external market trends and diversifying the portfolio of services.
With hospitals closing and rehabilitation facilities overcrowded, the hotels also have a market opportunity to branch into providing live-in and outpatient rehabilitation services. Atlantic City could once again become a retirement haven for upscale cliental, drawing the wealth of this generation into New Jersey, and helping to retain our own. (Boomers own approximately 50% of the asset base of America, numbers vary slightly by web source)
Increasing the voting population of middle and upper income residents would also help to reestablish good government in Atlantic City. A diverse mix of economic ranges in the population provides the human resources needed for a stable community.
Gambling is just one aspect of Atlantic City’s future success. The attractions casino’s provide create an active and enjoyable environment for retirees from the Rock & Roll generation, more likely to rent a jet ski and go to shows than sit in a rocking chair and knit.
There are always solutions. Being courageous enough to step out of the comfort zone of the past, and into the unknown of the future is lways the hard part. We are lucky that we CAN assist these industries, as many problems are self inflicted.
The first thing to do is stop shooting ourselves in the foot and let the wounds heal.
Nora Craig is the founder of Nora’s Tea Party