- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey is renewing its effort to jump-start Atlantic City’s struggling casino market by allowing smaller casinos to open.

A state Senate committee on Monday advanced a bill to authorize two “boutique” casinos for the resort that can be much smaller than the existing casinos.

The bill also removes a requirement from the original 2011 law authorizing “boutique” facilities that the casinos must be built from scratch; the new bill would permit existing buildings to be converted into small casinos.

Similar measures stalled in the Legislature twice in recent years.

Thus far, no one has taken advantage of the law, which was written when Hard Rock International was expressing interest in doing a rock ‘n’ roll-themed boutique casino in Atlantic City that it ultimately abandoned. The company is now partnering with the Meadowlands Racetrack to build a casino at the East Rutherford sports complex if a push to expand casino gambling to northern New Jersey is approved.



“We did something a few years back to lure Hard Rock,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, a Bergen County Democrat. “It never happened, unfortunately. But we keep trying, and we’re going to keep trying.”

Curtis Bashaw, the owner of the Chelsea, a 330-room boutique hotel in Atlantic City, is interested in adding gambling. He did not speak at Monday’s hearing and did not respond to requests for comment afterward.

The boutique casino plan was seen as a way to entice developers into the market at a much lower price than the $1.5 billion to $2 billion the city’s higher-end casinos cost to build. The most successful of the city’s eight casinos have 2,000 rooms or more.

The changes were first proposed in late 2014, after four of the city’s 12 casinos had shut down. They also included scrapping a requirement that one of the new smaller hotels eventually expands to 500 rooms.

No one has built one of the new casinos since Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill in January 2011.

The move is one of many the state is trying to reinvigorate Atlantic City’s struggling casino market, including Internet gambling and a push to legalize sports betting.

Atlantic City’s casino revenue has fallen from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.56 billion last year.

___

Follow Wayne Parry at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide