At the Meadowlands today Sen. Jim Whelan (D- Atlantic County) said, “If we do this right we will find a way to save and strengthen the horse racing industry, find a way to save and strengthen the casino industry, and at the same time find a way to get Xanadu finished.” Good luck, Sen. Whelan. Casinos, horse racing, and Xanadu are in deep financial trouble, beyond just fixes which the legislature or the governor can implement. The solutions being discussed are primarily about gaming – an independent agency to revive the AC casino business, slots/VLT’s for horse racing, and a possible casino attached to Xanadu.
The second Democratic Gaming Summit was held today at the Meadowlands Racetrack with about 1,000 in attendance – union members, race track enthusiasts, “suits” representing moneyed interests, and legislators trying their best to appear impartial while just as frequently representing the interests of their local constituents and business supporters.
A rising tide raises all boats, and certainly a better economy is what we need. However, the competition in the gaming industry will only get fiercer and continue to cannibalize itself. Internet gambling as it expands, which it will regardless of what the federal government wants, will only make physical location gambling more problematic. Gaming might produce short term gratification but longer term broader-based solutions are needed.
A better solution in Atlantic City where failing casinos are in death-like competition with surrounding states and some are worth only a fraction of their value four years ago, might be to return to its roots as an ocean-front family-friendly vacation resort which now happens to allow gambling. The Meadowlands race track at a minimum will have to tighten its belt but might have lessons to learn from the success this year at Monmouth. As Xanadu is located in a county with an excess of shopping malls, its new developer (when/if selected) might benefit by looking more at the entertainment, rather than retail, aspect of its proposed business model.