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Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in Blog, Travel | 19 comments

Atlantic City’s Decline and Demise Summed Up a Two Minute Story




When businesses collapse and empires fall, there’s the troublesome issue of who ends up suffering the most. 


Not the bankers or stockholders or organized crime or the state government which has milked the fuck out of what used to be a cash cow to the point of exhaustion and collapse.  They do fine.  They’ll survive.

Rather, it’s the thousands of innocent people who end up paying the ultimate price of such unbridled greed and institutionalized stupidity.

Indeed, it’s always the working class as victims.  Good ordinary people like dealers, bartenders, waiters, bellmen, valet parkers, and the host of service industry people — struggling to make ends meet within a dwindling market, many of them stuck with upside-down mortgages and unsellable houses in a downtrodden weekend travel destination that once enjoyed it’s best days 30 years ago — they suffer.  All these nice people who followed the rules all those years who end up getting fucked while flakes like Donald Trump, one of those who are most responsible for driving this city into the ground, continues to preen his public image like some kind of pathetic financial version of the Kardashians.

The final former Trump property (Taj Mahal) is about to be boarded up and probably imploded at some point, one of the few joyously redeeming aftershocks of what’s been a citywide financial decline of staggering proportions.  At least the good people of Atlantic City won’t have to gaze out their windows each day and see those five horrible bold letters on the eastern horizon on bold orange.  T-R-U-M-P is about as valuable a name right now as Braniff Airlines and Blockbuster Video.  He’s to casinos what Chernobyl is to nuclear energy.

The problem with kicking Atlantic City while it’s down and out is — the cruelty of overstating the obvious.

It gives me no joy nor brings me any pleasure to remind everyone what a monumental clusterfuck of an awful casino market this is, where just about every visitor here gets fucked in the ass — from $390 rooms on Saturday nights over a holiday weekend to an appalling lack of attractions other than padlocked slot machines that don’t pay worth a damn, and crowded restaurants (on weekends) that markup the going rate on classic dinners 1.5x the going rate in comparable high-dollar markets like New York and Philadelphia.

But nothing makes me want to rant in a blog like a wild man worse than simply being taken advantage of, and screwed by casinos who don’t understand a thing about entertainment or really trying to achieve customer satisfaction.

Consider what happened to me earlier this evening.

I went to pick up my rental car on a moderately busy Sunday night.  I handed the valet booth my ticket.  Mind you, in Las Vegas — or just about any major casino where management realizes the primary incentive is to lure customers inside the casino at any cost — things like valet parking are free.  FREE!  Or, maybe some places charge a few bucks that very most (I’ve paid $5 in some places).  No big deal.  I’m going to tip the valet anyway.  Plus, whatever I have in my pocket I am likely to play and spend in bars and restaurants.

Want to know the next words I heard out of the mouth of the valet attendant?

“That will be $15.”


Fifteen dollars….to park my car for a couple of hours.  Plus the tip.  On a 28-degree night in January with freezing rain.  At a shitty half-empty casino where a tap beer costs $9.

This is Atlantic City in two minutes.  Screw people.  Milk them.  Take their money.

The only thing missing was a swift kick in the ass from the valet parking attendant, being shot the finger perhaps, along with a sarcastic comment about being a sucker for even bothering to come here in the first place when far newer and nicer places with gambling now shine in all the major surrounding markets.  It seriously begs the question — why would anybody come here anymore?

Trouble is, more and more — aren’t coming anymore.  They won’t.  Too many $15 valet charges.

Is this what Atlantic City has come to?  Ripping off would-be gamblers $15 to park a rental car for a couple of hours?  This is on top of already inflated hotel room rates and ridiculous restaurant prices?

This, my friends, is why Atlantic City is decaying, and probably deserves to die.  But unfortunately, those deceased won’t end up being the casino executives with golden parachutes or naive ownership — those who institute obscene management policies that are supposedly designed to squeeze every nickel from visitors, but which backfire by keeping people away vowing never to come back again.

In Atlantic City, the dead bodies actually belong to the workers — who bear the ultimate price of their bosses’ stupidity.

That’s the ultimate tragedy of this very sad and depressing place.


  1. The real tragedy of Atlantic City is that the people who actually live in Atlantic City never benefited from the boom. Nothing was really back to the community. most of the casino employees commuted from nearby small cities. Atlantic City remained gang ridden, crime infested, with bad schools, boarded up homes, and very little hope. perhaps had they built up and invested in the local community, they also wouldn’t be so reliant on people coming in from New York and Philadelphia and the competition wouldn’t be hurting them quite as much. sadly the fat cats got fatter when it Atlantic City boomed and they suffer no personal consequences for the bankruptcies or their greed.

  2. Love the Trump references…

    • Trump doesnt even own any of the properties and hasn’t for quite a few years. And its not Trumps fault as has seen its better days. It is plain and simple. Too much competition PERIOD!!! We did great when it was just us and vegas.,

  3. I spent two years in Atlantic City from the beginning in 1984, to open what supposed to be the Atlantic City Hilton & Casino. Local politics and a Casino Control Commission that clearly had their priorities sideways chose to deny a gaming license to Hilton. After a short legal fight, the company had to sell the property 90 days before opening to Donald Trump. Several years later Taj Mahal and Showboat opened. Those years (early to mid 80’s) saw the best financial results of the Atlantic City casino experiment. Flash forward 10-20 years and the gaming destination was surrounded by competition in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware as well as other jurisdictions using gaming is a panacea to solve local tax revenue issues. The past ten years just made matters worse. This market saturation paired with the lack of reinvestment in the community at the appropriate time doomed Atlantic City. I don’t know that it’s correct to lay the blame 100% on the doorstep of the corporations, it also belongs to the multitude of state governments that passed gaming laws allowing it to proliferate. Market saturation will kill the golden goose every time. As such what happened there in 2014 and also is continuing in 2015 is a consequence of all of the above and we must the market forces to finish their work, albeit however painful for those that are left behind. I still have friends from my time in Atlantic City and my heart aches for them. The coastal areas there enjoy much natural beauty but unfortunately the squalor of the remains of the gaming experience Atlantic City have succeeded in turning the place back into what it once was….. a carny town with $15 valet parking.

  4. Good article but makes me wonder how much effort was really put into it when the writer makes a remark about Donald Trump.
    Trump has not owned a property in AC in almost ten years now. I worked at Trump Plaza for 23 years and when Trump was involved with his properties they were clean and as employees we never worried about not being paid.

  5. The real issue is they did not adapt to the changing market. New competition in within an hour’s drive and they did nothing until it was too late. They should have been installing ferris wheels and water parks and billing it as America’s family playground.

  6. I’m not sure who Nolan Dalla is or why he is an authority on AC but his opinions are skewed. As a born and raised native of AC I can say without question that AC’s problems are not due to the casinos, their management or their ownership. If you are looking to truly place blame and understand the current woes of AC you have to look no further than the past and present corrupt and/or inept city councils and mayors (excluding Whelan), the unions, the convention and visitors authority and the CRDA. Casinos were brought to AC to save the once thriving resort town that was now destitute in the 1970’s. They were lured there through tax incentive and backroom deals but ultimately the prospect of making large sums of money which is the most important element of a business. It is not, nor was it ever the responsibility of the casinos, their management or there owners to do anything more than bring commerce back to the city. The CRDA received 1.25% of all gambling revenue to reinvest into the city. The unions(I was once a member) pushed wages and benefits beyond sustainability for the casinos and many surrounding businesses. The city council and the mayors have a ridiculous history of corruption and mismanagement. They consistently held the casinos back from expanding their businesses. The CRDA has done little to create a broader base for commerce particularly in areas where crime and vacant buildings were most prevalent. Finally, the convention and visitors authority did little to build a strong citywide convention base particularly during the winter months when midweek business adds billions to the cities coffers. And let’s not forget that each time something went wrong with AC all of these entities looked for the casinos to kick in more money or figure out a fix. Maybe most of all we should blame the state government for not seeing the current issues or more importantly the issues of the past and stepping in to find solutions. The casinos are desperate today to survive. It’s easy to say the room rates are to high or the parking cost to much.If you understand the cost not only to maintain but to keep a casino/hotel relevant and the excessive cost of wages and benefits with an aging work force then you may understand why it cost so much today. Add into the equation severe seasonality, unprecedented competition and a lack of governmental leadership and you may better understand the AC casinos today.

  7. Well I now know Nolan Dalla lacks integrity! Why not post my rebuttal?

    • Pritz,
      I am Nolan’s webmaster. We hold all new comments from first time visitors in a moderation queue in order to keep the spam at bay. Otherwise this section would be full with ads for Viagra, Ugg boots and fake New Jersey Devils shirts. A blog like Nolan’s registers about 60-80 thousands attempts of comment spam per month. I think that justifies a small delay in the approval of legitimate comments.

  8. Pritz, you wrote:

    1. I’m not sure who Nolan Dalla is…

    And then later wrote:

    2. Well I now know Nolan Dalla lacks integrity…

    Well, I’m not sure who you are, but based on the second phrase above, I am 100% confident that first phrase is true.

  9. What AC really needs is to turn down all buildings and Poor businesses from Pacific Av. to Atlantic Av. Who goes to this stores, I bet you no tourist, just the people that live there. Re-model all this blocks between those two Avenues from used to be Show Boat up to the old Hilton. Build water parks & amusement parks. It need to take out of the city the people that live there and relocate them out of the city. Visitors are scare to walk on the street and not to be assaulted, asked for money and selling stolen items beside selling drugs. There is a lot of drug addicts on sidewalks, and drunk people. Every single day someone get beat up or assaulted. The tourist is just concealed to the Casinos and maybe the boardwalk. Tourist don’t want to see that, they probably has it were they come from, they want to see something different for a change. You may ask where is the money to do all that. I will say, where is the money that the city gets from the Casinos parking, where is the tax money that this Casinos should be paying. What we need is the so called City Administrators to stop stealing all this money and put it back in the City. Whelan need to do a reform and put honest people to work in the City. Ask yourself, why Borgata, Harras and Golden Nuggets are doing better than other Casinos in the City. When you travel to those Casinos you don’t see what others see at the City itself. Those three Casinos are on a better area. The City Administrators in conjunction with Casino Control Commission should get involve in the regulations concerning prices on restaurants, bars and room charges in the Casinos. Lower all this prices. Also there is a lot of Management & Executive positions that are way overpaid sited on a desk producing nothing. If all these Casinos want to survive they have to look for all the above, instead of getting greedy. They make money, they just want more.

  10. Nolan! There you go again. In yet another fashion, laying a big goose egg. This time it regards Donald Trump who years ago fought to have his name removed from that eye-sore and hasn’t been involved since way-back-when … Don’t you read the papers?

    Welcome Atlantic City to that growing list of communities where blight and their financial security are at their very worse. Cities on the verge of bankruptcy like Detroit, New York, Chicago, Camden, New Orleans, and several California cities to name just a few (there are others). What do they ALL have in common? They are communities where the Democratic party and labor unions have been entrenched and in control for decades. How’s that worked out for them?

    “Denial” as they say isn’t just a river in Egypt.

  11. Stop bitching about $15 bucks to park. Have you ever parked in Manhattan on the east side near the Met (70’s ish on 5th) on a weekday? $55 – $65 dollars or more for several hours! Talk about ass rape! Give me a break about the $15 bucks! I mean you have to pay that or mure at Sesame Place for the honor to dump another $40 plus a head to get into a park! This whole article was about the insult of having to pay for parking? You are a HUGE FUCKING DUCHE!!! And use a Fucking spell check you Byatch!

    • Well Deserv

  12. I can honestly say I have beaten Atlantic City. I gambled there once and walked away with a $35 profit playing $5 blackjack. It was the first time I gambled in a casino and it was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I wish I would have lost my lousy $20. I might not have ever gone back to another casino again.

  13. I’m not sure blaming Donald Trump is correct.
    The truth is; it was “bad city management” Bad city management over the last 30 years made mistake after mistake! Without repercussion because of what Atlantic City is, or was.. Having said that, this fix could happen if they would: Give away the parking, Give away the food, and Give away the rooms,, like they did in the 80s and 90s! People would come back and jobs will be created,, it’s just that simple,
    (let’s all look forward not behind)
    let’s get rid of the accountants Whom — now run Atlantic City, and let’s bring back the “casino guys!” Not the most popular “angel” but it’s My opinion & the truth; from someone who grew up there on the boardwalk, and runs business today…
    My father Michael Lubik from “Lubik Cadillac” on Albany Avenue; predicted this would happen someday, and he was correct. This is why he flipped the ambassador hotel instead of opening a casino himself. He thought it would’ve happen much sooner because of Atlantic City’s history of Management..

    Just my opinion though

    Best regards Scott Michael Lubik LLP

  14. The casinos were good for the south jersey area, while they lasted. Now it’s time for something different. I left AC a couple years ago, because i saw the writing was on the wall. Almost everyone i know from casino workers to construction workers were getting laid off, and then the hurricane came and destroyed a lot of stuff (including my apartment and place of business). Now I am in shitty South Florida and am at least working, albeit for shitty South Florida wages. I still keep in touch with what’s left of my old ducktown crew. Some once proud workers of whom are on welfare now, and too many others have died from stuff like heart attacks and alcoholism. No doubt the stress of being broke all the time and having to worry about homelessness has been a contributing factor. That’s capitalism though, i guess, what can you do?

  15. One of the biggest problems was from the start. The infrastructure needed a complete overhaul and I mean complete. Pacific Ave. should have been 3 times the width with bigger sidewalks. Like the strip in Vegas, Pacific Ave.should have been the main drag with clubs, shopping and entertainment. The neighbor hoods were neglected by incompetent city politicians. The state along with the CRDA siphoned off millions instead of giving back to the city as promised. They thought that this was a monopoly East of the Mississppi.Then they pushed out Steve Wynn and we know what he did for Vegas.

  16. I don’t believe for one minute that these people lived in AC or they would not stick up for Trump. Bankruptcy is just a way to launder money. I don’t think people understand how bankruptcy works. Many people do it but not like Trump could. He made more money going bankrupt than the trillions of dollars he fleeced from the people losing money to all them machines and games. He never helped anyone but himself at everyone else’s expense and the government leaders were all in on it making false promises and fleecing anything they could get and sucking the people and economy dry and he will do it on a larger scale if he becomes president. It will come out of your wages and taxes. Trump don’t care about any of you! He is a thief and a robber. He is not a good businessman to go bankrupt so many times. Trump promised prosperity to Atlantic City, NJ and he brought further poverty and the demise of that whole area. They can’t recover from all that devastation in 10 years after Trump did that to an already suffering city. It’s like beating up an already broken up man and promising you’ll help get him better and nothing promised comes to pass then kicking them over and over again til he is dead. Then someone has the nerve to say well now that your beaten and dead or almost dead, you should just get up and be ok in no time at all. Let someone crack your skull open and see if you are ever the same again!


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