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Good news from Atlantic City

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It’s been a crazy couple of days, meaning I haven’t been able to write about the good news out of Atlantic City — namely, that gaming revenue jumped 12.6 percent over August 2011, the first increase since December.

But, like almost all the good news out of Atlantic City, the closer you look at this flower, the less you see petals and the more you see thorns.

August 2011 is notable in Atlantic City for two reasons — Revel wasn’t open, meaning there were only 11 casinos making up the total revenue, and Hurricane Irene, which forced the casinos to close for three days as the governor told visitors to “get the hell off the beach.”

Revel, since we’re on that one, remains stubbornly stuck in eighth place among the casinos, though its numbers have improved substantially since it opened. Is there a prize for rolling an 8 five times in a row? And the loss of a prime weekend last year was trotted out as the reason the city’s numbers were off, yet it’s the only reason there was an uptick this time around.

There’s also the good news that the Margaritaville project, which has replaced Revel as the city’s savior, got a key environmental approval out of the way for the beachfront bar and restaurant. The Jimmy Buffett brand will be a measurable help to the city during the warmer months, but will it draw in tourists in February?

The city still needs help to become a year-round destination, and whether Revel even lives long enough to see in the new summer is becoming a legitimate question. Atlantic City remains desperate for an old guy to save it, and given the timing, it won’t be Buffett or Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis — it’ll be Santa Claus.

I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.

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