Casino magnate Steve Wynn already knew Atlantic City would become obsolete in the 1980s, when he sold his casino there less than a decade after opening.
Wynn, who got into the Las Vegas casino business when he was 23, started the Golden Nugget Atlantic City in 1978. It opened a year or two later, but Wynn sold it in 1987.
In a WSJ video interview with Peter Robinson from the Hoover Institution, Wynn said the local Atlantic City government was “corrupt and stupid,” and the state government wasn’t stepping up to take advantage of Atlantic City’s potential. According to Wynn, this is what led to the city’s decline.
From the interview:
“And I kept saying to governors of New Jersey, ‘You must take control of the central planning of this community if it’s to save itself. Right now you’re the monopoly on the East Coast, that will end someday. And the infrastructure of this city has to be so big, that it’s like Las Vegas. Las Vegas is surviving in spite of everything because the infrastructure here is so big. The menu for guests is so great. Atlantic City can’t just be a local crap game. It’s gotta be a destination city.’
But for that, the government had to take over — the New Jersey state government, not the local Atlantic City government, which was pathetic. Well they wouldn’t. And they didn’t. And I came at one point of the view that Atlantic City was never going to take advantage of its opportunity and would eventually face obsolescence, which I’m afraid is true today.”
Wynn said he was first drawn to business in Atlantic City after fellow casino owner Jack Davis told him he was making $US150,000 a day.
“We did $US700,000 the first three days in slots,” Davis told him, Wynn said in the interview. “We were having trouble counting the money from the tables, because it’s all stacked up in box crates.”
In January 2014, The Center for Gaming Research reported that Atlantic City’s revenue has been consistently declining since 2007, having fallen more than 45 per cent since 2006.
The most visible example of Atlantic City’s decline is the $US2.2 billion Revel casino, which filed for bankruptcy for the second time in June