The casino talk in the New York region keeps up. It’s important that any New Jersey discussion of whether or not to expand casino gaming outside of Atlantic City include the fact that casino expansion is likely in New York near the city.
I’ve already discussed the problems with the hope that gambling can have a positive impact on a region’s economy so I just want to focus a bit on the problems of a “Las Vegas style casino.”
Google returns over 3 million hits for that phrase. None of the top results are a definition for what exactly a “Las Vegas style casino” is. (Any time they add the word “style” to another word, someone is pulling your *****.) Back when I did some research on the approval of casino gaming ballot measure in New Jersey, I came across some great quotes of casino proponents promising they wouldn’t have casinos like Las Vegas. They called them “honky tonk” casinos. Think the diviest dive bars. Casino proponents in New Jersey promised us class.
So what makes a casino Las Vegas style? Restaurants? Entertainment? Shopping? Massive hotels? Sounds a lot like the Atlantic City casinos that we have today. So why don’t we call them “Atlantic City style casinos?” Because Atlantic City gaming is in decline and there’s nothing inherently special about the style of casino in Vegas. Las Vegas is successful and Atlantic City isn’t. This is a marketing term and you shouldn’t let it fool you.
There’s one place where this type of monstrosity could make sense. I suppose if you wanted to add to
the monstrosity Xanadu money pit the American Dream Meadowlands you should have all those things in one massive shrine to 20th Century shopping habits. Then we can wonder why it failed again.
If a North Jersey casino is inevitable, and it might be, it needs to follow good urban planning sense and be placed in a city. It should be small scale with a hotel but limited restaurants and no retail shopping. Or at least no shopping that doesn’t have street frontage.
Atlantic City thought casinos were the ticket to revitalization but those hulking behemoths turned their back on the fabric of the city. They brought tourism dollars into their own closed economy and the residents suffered for it. We shouldn’t make the same mistake again. If casino gaming is going to be spread as form of entertainment, it needs to be regulated in a way that helps residents and the region instead of attempting to maximize state tax collection.
But we’ll probably end up with something that looks like this.