How Casinos And Atlantic City Changed Nj

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By Surabhi Ashok

The building of the first casino in Atlantic City, Resorts International, in 1978 changed New Jersey’s landscape drastically.

In just 10 years, the number of annual visitors to these casinos had increased fourfold, from 700,000 to over 33 million people, making this one of the most visited tourist destinations at the time. The city’s tax base also rose to $6.7 billion in 2000, and the gross revenue in 2013 was $2.9 billion.

Other than rising profits, the casino industry allowed for the employment of more than 34,145 people in 2012 and bought from over 1,808 NJ businesses, which really promoted the state’s economy as well as the previously struggling Atlantic City economy.

In addition, the Casino Revenue Fund was set up so that 8% of the casino gross revenues go towards funding programs for disabled and senior citizens. 1.25% of the casinos’ gaming revenues also go into the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), which funds economic, infrastructure, cultural, and social development projects. Investing in more than $1.8 billion in these projects, Atlantic City has seen a positive impact as a result.

While this is all true, the long-term effects of commercial gaming were more negative. Most wages didn’t increase, and issues like problem gambling, crime, drunk driving cases, and reduced household wealth arose.

Over-saturation occurred, where there was too much competition in the same area and customers started to forgo existing establishments with newer venues. This high-density market eventually started to work against each other, with wages only decreasing and going below median levels.

Concentrated poverty remained in the city, with employment going to residents outside of Atlantic City and the middle-class population moving into the suburbs instead.