Tag: Surviving Atlantic CityView All Tags
As we mentioned this weekend, Atlantic City hasn't been breaking any attendance records lately. We have to say, there's one good reason why Vegas-on-the-turnpike has never really turned that corner from senior citizens long weekend getaway to A-list resort town: There's just no great, affordable way to get there.
But East Coasters looking for a gambling fix can kiss the Greyhound goodbye, as AC is set to finally introduce regular train service to and from New York.
The town has had train service to New York before--but never any that made a profit and stuck around. Starting February 6, the new train will offer round-trip service between New York's Penn Station and AC for the pretty reasonable price of $50 each way. First-class tickets go for $75, and the Borgata, Caesars and Harrah's will each offer shuttle service from the train stop.
It's a long-awaited upgrade for sure, but is it enough to make anyone actually go?
· By rail from NYC to Atlantic City [Detroit Free Press]
· Atlantic City in Freefall: How to Get People Gambling Again [Jaunted]
· Atlantic City Travel coverage [Jaunted]
The timing couldn't be worse for the ACES train. New Jersey Transit is launching its New York City - Atlantic City service on February 6, providing a long-awaited rail link between the east coast capitals of money-making and money-taking, but it looks like the money is drying up on both ends. As the AP reports, revenue at Atlantic City's eleven casinos was down dramatically in December, falling nearly 19% as compared with a year earlier and marking a bleak end to a disappointing year. Not only is everybody broke these days, but those who have a few bucks left have more options than ever to gamble them away, with new slots parlors in Pennsylvania and New York and big pushes by Connecticut casinos continuing to siphon away visitors.
The three-year old Quarter at the Tropicana is one of Atlantic City's two Las Vegas-style shopping complexes. (The Pier Shops at Caesars is the other.) The stores include some A-list franchises--Brooks Brothers, Swarovski and a nearly-open Brookstone--along with some awesomely left field shopping spaces like the Old Farmer's Almanac General Store and a branch of New York City's Spy Shop.
But that's beside the point. From what we've seen, it's definitely the best place to eat and get drunk in Atlantic City. A ritzy food court has franchises of New York's Palm steakhouse and Carmine's, Philadelphia's Cuba Libre restaurant and several others, including a Jeffrey Chodorow Russian-themed restobar with suspiciously little Russian food on the menu.
While Caesars makes a play for the television foodie market, other casinos have cornered niches of their own. While in Atlantic City this weekend, the following celebs headlined:
• Blues Traveler (Tropicana)
• Charo (Hilton AC)
• Chicago (Borgata)
• Joan Rivers (Harrah's)
• Ringo Starr (Trump Taj Mahal)
• Steely Dan (Borgata)
Interesting enough. Who are the other upcoming headliners? Mickey Rooney, the Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, the Village People, Jefferson Starship, War, Grand Funk Railroad and America. Between Rooney and the rest, it's safe to say the twin demographics in AC are the 65-and-over crowd and Baby Boomers.
With Atlantic City casinos in a competitive frenzy for guests' dollars, everyone needs a gimmick. It seems like Caesars has found a successful niche of its own: Hosting television food show-related events.
We arrived in Atlantic City during the Toast to the Coast festival, which trotted out celebrity chefs/cooking personalities Roland Meisner, Ingrid Hoffman and Guy Fieri for cooking demos and offered a live show with Giada De Laurentiis. There was also the chance to meet Hoffmann and Fieri at a pool party over at Harrah's (whose previous guests include both Kim Kardashian and Tila Tequila), along with a food expo and several other events spread throughout Harrah's Atlantic City properties.
Judging by the casino floors of Atlantic City, the town's current gambling trend is Chinese-style card games. Not only that, but nearly half of Atlantic City's casinos have opted to locate Chinese card games in special Asian theme areas. "Disney China" architecture and design with passable noodle shops? Find it here.
Let's cut to the chase when it comes to slot machines: The babies are essentially random number generators. Ever since the great switchover to computerized slot machines, the games have been based on internal software that uses an RNG to determine what will show up on the reels.
Nonetheless, slots are popular. They dominate the floor space of nearly all Atlantic City casinos. In the quest to attact gamblers to machines, manufacturers have increasingly turned to offering licensed slots based on popular television, film, music and cultural properties.
Poker is, by far, America's favorite card game. But there are only so many bells and whistles you can add to win new fans. So enter the newest gimmick of all: Automated poker tables.
Over at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, 14 new PokerPro tables made their debut in the building's East Tower for a field trial earlier this month. The electronic tables have room for 10 players, who sit at individual video touch screens. The game automatically shuffles and deals the cards for all players--and automatically identifies winners after each hand. In other words, the dealer has been completely shut out of the equation.
But how do the games play? From our experience, it's a mixed bag. On the one hand, the pace of the game is a bit faster than traditional poker thanks to computerization. The machines also--let's face it--attract inexperienced poker players who view the tables as stepping stones between the video slots and real poker. But the interpersonal aspect of the game is completely gone. A good dealer can add personality and spirit to a game, just as much as a bad dealer can ruin it. With no dealer in play, it just feels like... video poker for ten people.