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Last month, a New Jersey Senate committee released a bill that calls for the establishment of the Atlantic City Tourism District, broadens the power and duties of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and transfers the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority and its functions to the CRDA. Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie backed a plan put forward by the state's Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Advisory Commission to create a new state-operated tourism district here by July 2011. One of the plan's main goals was to increase convention business in the Atlantic City market by at least 30 percent per year for the next five years. At press time, the governor had not weighed in on the Senate's proposal.
A proposal to allow two new smaller casinos to be licensed in Atlantic City was approved last month by the New Jersey Assembly. The measure will allow development of a 200-room casino hotel with 20,000 square feet of gaming space, as well as a gaming property with 30,000 square feet of gaming space and at least 200 hotel rooms, contingent upon it expanding to 500 rooms within five years of being licensed. Currently, state law requires gaming resorts to have 500 rooms and at least 60,000 square feet of floor space.
A recent report from the Atlantic City Casino Control Commission shows that nongaming revenue (derived from hotel rooms, meals, etc.) was up 9.8 percent for the first nine months of this year.
Gomes Gaming Inc. is set to purchase the Resorts Casino Hotel this month. The property offers 942 guest rooms, approximately 100,000 square feet of gaming space and 45,000 square feet of meeting space.
Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owns and operates three Atlantic City gaming properties -- the 2,032-room Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel, the 904-room Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and the 728-room Trump Marina Hotel Casino -- emerged from its third Chapter 11 reorganization this summer; at press time, the organization's board was running the properties.
The 804-room Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort has unveiled four new eateries: Simon Prime, a steak house by celebrity chef Kerry Simon; ONO Pan-Asian Bistro and Bar; Nick's Burger Bar, and The Coffee Shop. The gaming property also updated its Beach Bar, and its gaming area now features new slot machines.
Richard Stockton College has purchased the 297-room Seaview, a resort in Galloway Township. The property and its Bay Golf Course will continue to be managed by Dolce Hotels & Resorts. The college plans to use part of the hotel for student housing and intends to develop a hotel management program. Meanwhile, the Seaview is undergoing a guest-room renovation and will be closed Jan. 17-March 17, 2011.
At the 1,756-room Bally's Atlantic City Hotel & Casino (owned by Harrah's Entertainment Inc.), the Wild Wild West Casino completed a $1.5 million renovation last summer. The project transformed the faux frontier-town décor into a country-music themed setting, including the addition of a stage, a mechanical bull and a "beer pong" area. In addition, the property's 500-room Claridge Tower is getting a $20 million makeover that will include revamped guest rooms.
The 2,133-room Tropicana Atlantic City Casino & Resort, purchased by billionaire investor Carl Icahn earlier this year, has been awarded an operating license by the Atlantic City Casino Control Commission. Three years ago, the commission stripped the casino of its license following a massive layoff that left the property understaffed.
Atlantic City Outlets-The Walk has completed its second phase of construction. Among the additions are the Nike Factory Store, Easy Spirit and the Eddie Bauer Outlet.
Properties include the 2,590-room Harrah's Resort Atlantic City; 2,133-room Tropicana Atlantic City Casino & Resort; 2,032-room Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel; 2,000-room Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa; 1,756-room Bally's Atlantic City; 1,331-room Showboat Casino Hotel; 1,140-room Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino; 942-room Resorts Casino Hotel; 904-room Trump Plaza; 804-room Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort; 800-room Water Club, a Signature Hotel by Borgata; 728-room Trump Marina Hotel Casino; 502-room Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel; 331-room Chelsea, and 206-room Courtyard by Marriott.
Atlantic City Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 486,600 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 45; (888) 222-3683; accenter.com
Atlantic City International Airport, about 10 miles northwest of the Boardwalk. Transfer cost by airport shuttle, $13; by taxi, $25-$35
Luxury tax, 9%; sales tax, 4%; occupancy fee, 1%; tourism promotion fee, $2 per room for casino hotels, $1 per room for others; total tax on hotel rooms, 14% plus tourism promotion fee
One Atlantic, an event space featuring spectacular ocean views, opened last year on the top floor of The Pier Shops at Caesars. The venue, with about 10,000 square feet of indoor event space and a 2,500-square-foot terrace, can accommodate up to 550 people for seated meals and 1,000 for receptions. (609) 343-9902; oneatlanticevents.com
The hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire has sparked interest in Atlantic City's glamorous and notorious past as a Prohibition-era playground. Groups of up to 25 can enjoy a historical tour of the area via the Great American Trolley Co., which even includes a stop to dine at the Irish Pub, where Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, upon whom Steve Buscemi's character on the show is based, once held court. (800) 487-6559; gatrolley.com
Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, (888) 228-4748; atlanticcitynj.com