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Laying groundwork to create a ‘flower’ among the weeds

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Israel Posner, on the Boardwalk, says there won’t be much reason to travel for gaming, as competing options continue to spring up in neighboring states like Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Israel Posner, on the Boardwalk, says there won’t be much reason to travel for gaming, as competing options continue to spring up in neighboring states like Pennsylvania and Delaware. - (Aaron Houston)

The conventional wisdom is the proliferation of gaming halls throughout the mid-Atlantic will increasingly drain market share from Atlantic City and threaten its survival as a tourist hub.

But Israel Posner, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton College, said that proliferation could reach a point where it begins to work in the city’s favor.

In the long term, “casino gambling will be as omnipresent as the cell phone that right now is attached to my hip,” he said.

He said online gaming, coupled with the new casinos in Pennsylvania, Delaware and elsewhere, will mean there’s little reason to travel to gamble. “At that point, a competitive advantage of a place like Atlantic City, ironically, is actually more prominent, because the weeds are everywhere,” he said.

Posner said city officials are laying the groundwork for the city to become a “flower,” which in this case means “a broad entertainment destination resort” beyond just gaming.

State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Northfield) said another way to become a flower in the weeds is to reach out to different kinds of tourists — even if those tourists aren’t necessarily interested in spending time in a casino.

“In the case of Bass Pro, now we’re thinking outside the box here a little bit,” he said. “You don’t really think about hunters and fishermen as potential Atlantic City customers. But why not?”

E-mail to: jaredk@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @jaredkaltwasser

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