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Atlantic City doesn't want to be like Las Vegas, but gaming experts say it looks like the East coast city is following our city's footsteps in many ways. New numbers just released, show Atlantic City is struggling to keep up with Las Vegas.

Here's a look at several differences between the two cities. Looking at population, as of 2000, Las Vegas has over 478,000 residents. While 40,000 people live in Atlantic City. The Las Vegas strip has 43 casinos, while Atlantic City only has 12.

Annual casino revenue, just on the Las Vegas strip alone, is $5.3 billion, Atlantic City, $5 billion. The average length of stay for visitors in Las Vegas is three and a half days, visitors in Atlantic City stay 13 hours.

David Scwartz, Director of UNLV's Center for Gaming and Research says, "Atlantic City was more successful than Las Vegas for many years if you look just at gaming revenue. You know even if you look at visitation for many years in the 80s Las Vegas trailed behind Atlantic City."

But times have changed, Scwartz says it seems Atlantic City is now trying to keep up, "Las Vegas really in the past 50 years has gotten a jump on promoting itself as a casino destination and really in the past 20 years has promoted itself much better as a hip and happening place."

It could be the reason Atlantic City is undergoing a bit of a face lift. Jeffrey Vasser, the Executive Director of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitor's Authority says, "We're continuing to add more rooms, we're continuing to add more attractions and entertainment."

Even despite a Forum Shops clone under construction at Caesars in Atlantic City, Vasser says these new additions have nothing to do with keeping up with Las Vegas. Vasser says, "One of the factors is the increased competition in our local feeder markets, Pennsylvania, the Catskills, Deleware, Maryland, eventually they're all going to have some type of gaming."

But Schwarz has a hard time believing recent changes in Atlantic City haven't been influenced by the success of the Las Vegas strip and says, "I think if you don't look at what the most successful person or most successful company or most successful city is doing in your area then you know you're being kind of foolish so I think definately its in response to what Vegas has been doing. Market it not as Las Vegas East, but as a unique destination that has things that Vegas doesn't have."

Vasser says, "We need to give them a compelling reason to come to Atlantic City." In a recent poll done by a company called Stockton-Zogby, those who were surveyed said they preferred casinos in Nevada over Atlantic City by two to one.

Article date 7/7/05

AC had 35 million visitors last year tied with Vegas

Two years after the opening of the much-ballyhooed Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, the city's first Las Vegas-style mega-resort, the long down-at-the-heels gambling getaway welcomes a Las Vegas-size entertainment complex overseen by the House of Blues. (Photo gallery: Atlantic City ups the ante)

Making its debut this weekend with Eminem and Counting Crows concerts, the House of Blues complex is the chain's largest. It has a 2,500-capacity music hall, a themed restaurant, members-only club and the first House of Blues casino floor. There's also a 35-table poker room designed to host World Series of Poker events.

House of Blues' only location in the Northeast, attached to the Showboat casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk, is just the latest in a steady stream of the Vegas-style nightspots, restaurants and stores that are opening in the wake of Borgata's successful debut in July 2003. The casino has smashed revenue records set by the city's 11 other casinos and is credited with drawing a hipper, younger crowd to the city.

Other developments:

•The Quarter at Tropicana. Billed as the biggest non-gambling expansion in Atlantic City history, the three-story, Havana-themed complex opened this winter with more than 40 restaurants, nightclubs and stores. Tenants include Latin-themed eatery and club Cuba Libre, blues club The Sound of Philadelphia, high-end live music lounge Tango's and 32 Luxe Lounge, an exclusive nightspot with European bottle service.

The development, distinctly Las Vegas in style with palm trees rising toward faux-sky painted ceilings, also houses a comedy club, a karaoke bar, an Imax theater, a new location for New York eatery Carmine's and a Blue Mercury spa. It's part of a $280 million expansion at the 24-year-old Tropicana Casino that also brings a 502-room tower. (Information: 800-843-8767,

•The Pier at Caesars. Caesars and developer Sheldon Gordon hope to emulate the success of Las Vegas' The Forum Shops with this upscale, $175 million dining, retail and entertainment complex, scheduled to open in early 2006. Built on a pier over the Atlantic Ocean and connected to Caesars casino by a sky bridge, the massive, four-story development will house nine high-end restaurants and nightclubs, a spa and nearly 100 upscale stores such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. (Information: 888-810-5500,

•Borgata expansion. Modeled on Las Vegas mega-casinos with glitzy restaurants, nightspots and Dale Chihuly sculptures hanging from the ceiling, the revolutionary-for-Atlantic City casino resort already is in the midst of a $200 million expansion that will bring more gambling floor space, restaurants, nightclubs and entertainment. It's expected to open next spring. And with revenue soaring (up 40% in the first quarter of 2005) and rooms selling out, the casino announced plans last month for a second, $325 million expansion that will bring 800 more hotel rooms by 2007. (Information: 866-692-6742,

Showboat, Caesars and Bally's casinos also are sprucing up their aging boardwalk entrances, and Casino Commission officials say at least two casinos (Resorts and Showboat) are considering adding hotel towers.
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