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Atlantic City is a common destination for poker players in America seeking live cash games. And the newly regulated online poker industry in New Jersey is also gaining ground and drawing players to the virtual tables.

Even so, Atlantic City is a mere shadow of its former self. It used to be known as “The World’s Famous Playground,” second only to Las Vegas for its casinos and nightlife, gambling options and vacations. AC thrived on gambling revenue during the 1970s and 1980s, though its struggles began in the next decades as neighboring states like Connecticut and Pennsylvania built their own casinos and resorts as stand-alone destinations.

While Governor Chris Christie struggled over the past few years to find solutions for Atlantic City as financial problems loomed, nothing seemed to be able to save the boardwalk and casino industry. The Borgata thrived, but other hotels and casinos like Revel, Atlantic Club, Showboat, and Trump Plaza closed their doors, with the Trump Taj Mahal added to the list in October 2016. Several still remain, and they are finding some new customers now due to the slow but steady growth of online gambling.

By the time the November elections were over, Christie’s administration was faced with a decision and made it. The New Jersey Local Finance Board voted unanimously to give the administration the authority to assume control over most of the key functions of Atlantic City, such as implementing or overturning city council decisions, handling city assets, and negotiating with unions and employees, not to mention help pay the city’s debts and stave off bankruptcy.

Will Casino Customers and Vacationers Notice?

The short answer is no.

Timothy Cunningham of the Division of Local Government Services will be the man in charge of the daily operations of the city. While some of the powers over Atlantic City are still being sorted out, nothing will change with relation to public services, fire and police department duties, etc.

Casinos will operate as usual, as only their taxes and public funds will be directed differently behind the scenes. Patrons entering and exiting casinos will see no changes at all, nor will anyone in the Atlantic City area. People should continue their expected casino visits and AC travels as usual.

In the long term, the city could declare bankruptcy, which will change its credit rating and make it more difficult to attract new businesses to the area, but even that changes nothing as it pertains to the casinos, their customers, vacationers, or even residents. A tax hike could have a negative effect, but the state is trying to stay away from that action in order to keep the residents and businesses it still has.

On the positive side, the online gaming industry in New Jersey is proving to be a continual and ever-increasing money-earner for the state, and the linked casinos are based in Atlantic City. The more that the industry grows and prospers, the more businesses will try to join in. Whether they want to participate in the existing form the industry takes or create a niche branch of it, it will only benefit online gaming and the partnering casinos in the long run.

Gambling has been a staple of Atlantic City for more than a century, and it will continue to be. Its look and feel may change as online gambling becomes more important to the gambling world as a whole, but casinos and gamblers will only benefit from the inevitable growth.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.

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