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Most recent preoccupations: the epic drama of Atlantic City, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, local beach culture, shoobies, the fragile psyche of the Philadelphia sports fan, and Miss America.
But it seemed everyone else was there, or now claims to have been, when Gorme’s husband, Steve Lawrence, presided over the first roll of the dice on May 26, 1978, at Resorts Hotel and Casino, ushering in a rocky four decades of legalized gambling in Atlantic City.
Caesars, parent company of Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s casinos in Atlantic City, told shareholders to expect a million decrease in cash flow this year.
Steven Perskie, the legislator who wrote the Casino Control Act and who took advantage of Gorme’s absence to nestle in next to Lawrence for the historic dice roll (“Queen of Resorts Reigns Again,” the local paper trumpeted), says the expansion, while welcome, could trigger another round of “rightsizing.” “They’re all making money,” said Perskie, a retired judge.
“They were to make major investments in money, turn over millions and millions of dollars to the government, and run an honest operation.
That’s what they did.” City and state government misdirected casino taxes, neglected basic improvements to Atlantic City, and failed to diversify the city’s economy until it nearly collapsed under the weight of a casino market that had spread well beyond New Jersey and then shrank.
Now owned by businessman Morris Bailey and operated by the Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun, with a partnership with Jimmy Buffett and his Margaritaville brand, Resorts has survived decades of an industry in which Atlantic City’s original East Coast monopoly now seems quaint.In March, Hard Rock and Stockton developer Joe Jingoli even wrote a ,000 check to keep a homeless day center afloat.“I think there was an opportunity for a whole lot of us to be homeowners and buy cars and send our kids to colleges,” says Ernest Coursey, an Atlantic County freeholder and former city councilman. We don’t think we got our fair share of what they promised us.” James Kennedy, a former CRDA executive director, says the region is starting to recover jobs, but notes that many of those are low-wage.As of March, all casinos except Borgata had more employees from Atlantic City than any other municipality, with a total of 4,130 Atlantic City residents employed by casinos.