Atlantic City will get face lift, hopes it will win back gambling travelers

Atlantic City used to be one of the most popular gambling destinations in the US, the casino gem of the east coast, yet it is faced with declining numbers in visitors and their spending. To win back its former glory, the city will go through a face lift according to a plan approved by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which includes a revamp of its well-known boardwalk and the addition of new rides on the pier.


Atlantic City Casinos

Atlantic City by Chris Goldberg

Although still the second-largest gambling center in the USA, Atlantic City, only second to Las Vegas, is currently facing strong competition from casinos in Pennsylvania, New York and New England. The city revamp will  mainly focus on the tourist-magnet boardwalk and will include the development of a whole new entertainment zone, new lighting, pavilions and art. Atlantic Avenue will become home to an arts and boutique district and a new residential area will be built along the water, near the South Inlet.

The famed Steel Pier will also undergo a $100 million facelift of its own, which will bring new amusement rides for this year, including a comeback of a once popular diving horse attraction and the once-famous Marine Ballroom.

John F. Palmieri, the executive director of the Atlantic City authority in charge of the plan to boost city popularity among gamblers, said about $30 to $40 million a year in gambling revenues will be used to pay for the public projects, hoping to also attract three to four times that amount in private investments.

“Our mission is to create a city where there is no off season,” said David Sheldon, a planner from The Jerde Partnership, who worked on the plan’s outline. “It is about a city that pulls you back in and makes you want to return again and again.”

While local authorities are quite taken with the plan, residents have voiced their concerns. They believe crime is a bigger issue than the city not having enough attractions to entertain visitors. According to data provided by, Atlantic City does have a higher crime rate than the US average, which might put off visitors that would come with enough cash and credit to spend in the local casinos.