THE IMPACT OF CASINO GAMBLING ON A SMALL TOWN The Case of Atlantic City*
CASINO gambling was approved for Atlantic City in New Jersey by a voter referendum in a statewide ballot in November 1976. After the appropriate legislative acts had been passed by the New Jersey State Legislature, the first casino opened in May 1978.
Two months later, the Center for Environmental Research at Richard Stockton State College held a conference on the impact of casino gambling in Atlantic City, and this chapter is based upon the opinions and issues discussed at that conference.
Atlantic City was experiencing an economic decline in the 1970s. Population was decreasing, unemployment rates were as high as 25 percent, hotels and motels were closing, conventions held in the city were decreasing, tourist visits were decreasing, and luxury tax collections were decreasing.
The opening of casinos in Atlantic City was viewed as a way of halting this economic decline and perhaps reversing it.
Preliminary estimates of the economic impact of casinos in Atlantic City were based on a projection of four to six casinos ( Economic Research Associates, 1976), but there are an estimated twenty-three sites, with varying degrees of credibility, that have the potential for casinos in Atlantic City. Since, at the moment, only one casino has opened, the changes and prob-____________________