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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Atlantic City Newsfeed

Assorted news items related to Atlantic City.

Revel Seeks Improvements to Surrounding Area
Revel Entertainment Group, led by outspoken CEO Kevin DeSanctis, is pushing for a portion of its tax payments to fund improvements to the area around Absecon Inlet. The funds would, among other things, go toward repairs to the Boardwalk, improvements to the park surrounding Absecon Lighthouse, renovations to Garden Pier, and a variety of other projects that would improve the appearance of the area surrounding the future Revel casino. Approval would be required from the Atlantic City school board and Atlantic County, both of whom would have to forfeit a percentage of the revenue they would otherwise have received from the Revel casino

Local government officials realize that Revel is the only bright spot that the city can point do from a development perspective and Revel seems very much aware of the power they have right now. One could easily wonder why these proposed renovations have not taken place already, particularly if you have walked along the Boardwalk past the Showboat in recent years, but it appears Revel is taking advantage of how much the city needs them to push for the much-needed upgrades to their new neighborhood.
Revel wants $150 million in tax revenue to finance Atlantic City improvements

Casino Job Cuts Continue
With the summer season long gone, job cuts in the winter in Atlantic City are not unusual, though this article from the Press of Atlantic City notes that there are more than 3,000 fewer casino workers than the same time last year
Casinos cut 525 jobs as business slows down

Atlantic City Looks to Teacher's Convention for Boost
This year's NJEA teacher's convention was expected to bring a rare increase in visitors to and Atlantic City event and local merchants were eager for a boost during the normally quiet fall weekdays.
Teachers convention provides boost to local economy

Ohio Approves Casinos
Last week, Ohio voters approved casino gambling in their state, adding yet another competitor for Atlantic City in the gambling market. The impact of this will likely be less than competition in New York and Pennsylvania, however, as a much smaller percentage of customers come to Atlantic City from Ohio. It is difficult to find an exact number of visitors from Ohio, but if you look at the number of visitors who travel to Atlantic City by air compared with those who drive or arrive by bus (see Annual Visit-Trips to Atlantic City), then you get a rough idea how this may be the least of the town's worries right now.

Ohio Casino vote passes on strength near would-be casinos; a look at the vote
Ohio casino vote comes as supporters tout economic benefits; critics leery of job promises
Atlantic City's next threat could come from Ohio

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Atlantic City Newsfeed

Assorted news items related to Atlantic City.

United States Poker Championship Returns to Television
The Spike Network will televise this year's United States Poker Championship, which began this past Monday at the Trump Taj Mahal.
Poker championship at Taj Mahal returns to TV

New Jersey Permitted to Join Sports Betting Lawsuit
In a move that could pave the way for New Jersey to join with other states to challenge a 1992 federal law prohibiting sports-betting in all but four states, a federal judge ruled that New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine will be permitted to file a formal complaint.  He will be required to do so before November 12, 2009.
Governor's Office can take part in sports betting lawsuit

Harrah's Fined $85,000 for Allowing Underage Gambling
Harrah's was fined for two separate underage gambling incidents.  The violations occurred in 2006 and 2008 at Bally's and Caesars.  Of note in the Press of Atlantic City and NBC 40 articles is that neither identifies the parent company, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.
Two casinos fined $85,000 for underage gambling violations

Atlantic City Has Cheapest Airfares
A recently released Bureau of Transportation statistics report recognized Atlantic City International Airport as having the cheapest average domestic fares in the nation.  The same report identified Las Vegas as having the fifth largest increase in average fares over the past 14 years, with a 65.3% increase in the cost of a ticket to that Nevada gambling destination (though, it should also be noted that the $233 average cost for a flight to Las Vegas is still below the national average of $301 per flight).

Read the full press release here:
2nd-Quarter 2009 Air Fare Data

Atlantic City Expressway Widening Begins

Last Friday, October 30 the South Jersey Transportation Authority broke ground to begin a $23.3 million construction project to add a third westbound lane from mile 7.8 (just past the Garden State Parkway exits while leaving town) to mile 17.4 (near the tolls).  The project is not scheduled to be completed until 2011.
South Jersey Transportation Authority Breaks Ground on Phase I of the Atlantic City Expressway Widening Project

Other News
World War I Monument and Knife and Fork Not Moving
The Press of Atlantic City reports that the proposed moving of the venerable Knife and Fork restaurant and the World War I Monument have been canceled, as the AC Gateway casino project seems to be dead.
Atlantic City's Knife & Fork staying put
The AC Gateway Project : Wally Barr and Curtis Bashaws Plans For The Dunes, Sahara Atlantic City and Old Atlantic City High School (read this for background information on the AC Gateway project)

Another Request to Lower Sand Dunes
NBC 40 reported on a meeting between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and business owners from Atlantic City to reduce the height of the sand dunes.  Members of the "Boardwalk Committee" would like visitors to be able to see the ocean more clearly from the Boardwalk, but the DEP is not in favor of these measure.  I find this request dubious, as it seems local businesses are forgetting the reality of life on a barrier island and just how important the dunes will be when the next big storm rolls in.

Boardwalk Committee wants to shorten dunes blocking ocean (from Press of Atlantic City, 6/10/2009)

Dune Issue Still Alive (from Pinky's Corner in Atlantic City Weekly, 10/14/2009)

Gap Outlet Reopens
Outlet store to reopen in Atlantic City as Gap Generation

Thursday, October 29, 2009

World Poker Tour Boot Camp Comes to Atlantic City

If you have an extra $2,000 to burn and want to improve your poker skills with feedback from some pros, then there are still a few spots left to register for the World Poker Tour (WPT) Boot Camp event at the Trump Taj Mahal over the weekend of November 14, 2009. Gavin Smith, Nick Brancato, Rick Fuller, and Nick Binger are listed as instructors

Have a look at the WPT Boot Camp web site for details.

Atlantic City Weekly Picks the Phillies!

I'm a little slow in posting this, but noticed at least one writer from the Atlantic City Weekly picked the Phillies to defeat the Yankees in the World Series.  Since visitors to Atlantic City are somewhat evenly divided between New Yorkers and Philadelphians, this seems like as good a measure as any to determine a legitimate favorite between these two strong teams.

Our unofficial prediction is that no team is going to beat the Phillies four times in a series.  Since ESPN only shows Yankees and Red Sox games during the regular season, a lot of people outside of the Delaware Valley have no idea just how talented, resilient, and mentally tough this team is.  They don't have as many big names as the Yankees, but a lot more people will know who they are this team next week.

Phillies go for historic World Series win vs. the Bronx Bombers

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Resorts Offers $9 Midweek Rooms

This requires a little upfront cash and some risk, but if you're coming to Atlantic City to gamble anyway and haven't established yourself at any casino, then here's a good way to get a nearly free midweek room.  Resorts Atlantic City is offering what it calls a "Winners" package for $109 per night.  This requires double occupancy and you'll need a partner to take full advantage of the deal.

Here's what you'll get:
  • $25 free slot play for both people in the room ($50 total)
  • $25 match play for both people in the room (another $50 total)
  • A Rendezvous Tower room (you'll want this over the older Ocean Tower)
  • late (2pm) checkout
The actual value of the free slot play is around $49.60 if you play it on 8/5 Bonus Poker (or $49.77 if you can get on the one 9/6 Jacks or Better machine in the casino) and the match plays will also be worth a little less than $50 in expected value.  Add on taxes for the room and you'll actually pay a little under $20 for your room, but that's still a good deal if you get in the Rendezvous Tower.

While the offer doesn't specify when it is valid, I was only able to book this midweek, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try some weekend dates.  If you get one, then let us know.  Take a look at the Resorts web site for details:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Atlantic City Newsfeed

Assorted news items related to Atlantic City.

Supermarket Likely to Return to Atlantic City
A couple recent articles talked about the likely return of a supermarket to Atlantic City, on the same site where a previous IGA and Thriftway. No word yet on how long it would take for the new A&P to be ready to open once a deal is finalized.
Atlantic City closer to getting supermarket

ACES Friday Trains to Feature Variety of Drinks
A press release from last Friday describes cocktails and beers offered on upcoming Friday trains to Atlantic City from New York City.
Atlantic City Express Service (ACES) Announces 'Pour Tour' This Fall

Resorts Opens New Spa
Not sure what to make of this, but I give Resorts credit for still trying, despite a dwindling customer base. They've announced the opening of a spa in their hotel and casino
Spa opens in Resorts Casino Hotel

Antiques Show to Return
Different from the Atlantique City show that ran for years, a new organizing is bringing the Atlantic City Antiques and Collectors Show to the Convention Center March 27-28, 2010.
Atlantic City to have antiques show again

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Atlantic City Newsfeed

Assorted news items related to Atlantic City.

The Walk Announces Expansion Plans
Developers talks about plans for the fourth phase on construction on The Walk, to include entertainment venues to go along with the existing shops and restaurants.  See these article from the Press of Atlantic City:
The Walk to expand: 'Atlantic City has reinvented itself a couple of times, and it’s going to do it again'
CRDA agrees to build bathrooms, allowing expansion of the Walk

A Year Later, Atlantic City Smoking Ban Revisited
A little over a year after the brief smoking ban in Atlantic City was enacted and immediately repealed there has been some talk of whether City Council will again consider completely banning smoking from casino floors.  This doesn't like likely to change, given casinos falling revenues and concerns over a further loss of business from smoking patrons.  A recent article in the Press of Atlantic City and editorial from the Newark Star-Ledger are examples of the recent coverage.
Atlantic City to debate casino smoking ban again
Pass the Atlantic City casino smoking ban

Head of Pinnacle Atlantic City Project Transferred
Kim Townsend, who was to head the Pinnacle Atlantic City casino, on the former Sands site, is headed to St. Louis to run the company's Lumiere Place casino and hotel.  This article from the Press of Atlantic City says she will still "oversee the Atlantic City project".  At this point, there's nothing to see, so I guess we'll just have to play somewhere else for a little longer.
Pinnacle's Atlantic City CEO transfers to St. Louis casino

Will Pinnacle Lot Be Used for Parking?
Here's the latest speculation about the Pinnacle site, as there is now speculation the vacant lot might become a temporary parking lot.  I find it odd, however, that the Harrah's representative talks about the need for more parking in town when that company has been closing the Temple Garage at Caesars on weekdays for months.  I haven't had trouble finding a parking space anywhere in town any time in years.
Some Atlantic City officials eye Pinnacle lot as potential parking site

AirTran Expands Schedule From Atlantic City to Orlando
Over the summer AirTran started service to and from Orlando, Florida with weekend flights.  They will now off daily flights between those cities.
AirTran announces daily flights from Atlantic City to Florida

In other airport news, Pinky's column in this week's Atlantic City Weekly mentions an actual international flight from Atlantic City International Airport.  WestJet will begin service to and from Toronto
Planes, Trains and Floods

Resorts' Coin Droppers Likely Gone for Good
Resorts attempt to bring back coin-dropping slot machines was short lived, apparently because Resorts couldn't put together enough cash to fill the machines.  Specifically, they Eisenhower silver dollars that they used to fill the machines were in short supply and a lot of players kept their dollars rather than cashing them in at the casino.  Why Resorts didn't use dollar tokens instead is beyond me.
Coin-operated slot machines vanish again in Atlantic City

Resorts Takeover Delayed
Speaking of Resorts, the Casino Control Commission has delayed a vote to approve the takeover of that casino by creditors.
Vote delayed on Resorts' takeover by lenders

Monday, October 19, 2009

Governor Opposed to VLTs at Racetracks

Governor Corzine announced his opposition to Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), which are similar to slot machines, at New Jersey race tracks. See this Atlantic City Press article for more.

Atlantic City Attractions

 I can't offer firsthand advice about all of these places, but they are frequently mentioned when people talk about what to see and do in Atlantic City and its environs.

Atlantic City Jitneys
Atlantic City Rolling Chairs
Atlantic City Expressway
Atlantic City International Airport (ACY)
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
New Jersey Transit Rail and Bus Service from Philadelphia
ACES Rail from New York City
Academy Bus Service
Greyhound Bus Service

Entertainment Venues
Boardwalk Hall
House of Blues

The Pool After Dark at Harrah's
mur.mur at Borgata
Mixx at Borgata
The Quarter at Tropicana
Dusk at Caesars

Beach Bars (Only Open in Warmer Months)
AC Hilton
Trump Plaza

Atlantic City Outlets (The Walk)
The Pier at Caesars
The Quarter at Tropicana
Waterfront Shop at Harrah's

For Kids
Steel Pier
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
Atlantic City Aquarium 
Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine
Atlantic City Cruises
Lucy the Elephant in Margate
Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township (beware of loud music when this page loads)

Theme Restaurants
Hard Rock Cafe
House of Blues
Rainforest Cafe

Other Dining
White House Sub Shop
Tony's Baltimore Grill

Atlantic City Miniature Golf
Flyers Skate Zone
Central Pier Go Karts

Atlantic City Historical Museum
New Jersey Korean War Memorial
Civil Rights Garden
Absecon Lighthouse
Historic Gardner's Basin
Historic Smithville
Dr. Jonathan Pitney House 
Noyes Museum of Art in Oceanville
Some casinos include historic Atlantic City Hotels, including the Dennis and Claridge Towers at Bally's and the at Ocean Tower at Resorts

Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy
James' Salt Water Taffy

Renault Winery
Balic Winery
Dimatteo Vineyards
Bellview Winery

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I lost a bunch of money, but swiped a fork

Originally Published April 24, 2005 in the Trip Reports section of the Las Vegas Advisor message boards.

Let me be the first to report back from East Coast Spring Member Fest 2005. I just returned from Atlantic City where I met with the largest group of Las Vegas Advisor members ever to gather in east of the Mississippi river. For the record, we were just north of Mississippi Avenue. However, a subset of today’s group will be heading to that street, which never achieved the fame of its Monopoly board brethren, tomorrow when the LVA takes over White House Subs.

Today, we conquered the Borgata Buffet, where I spent three hours conversing with old friends and meeting some new ones. That was the highlight of the trip, as the gambling side of my foray into America’s Playground was not successful at all. I am in the midst of what stockbrokers would call a “correction.” I call it ….. well, it wouldn’t be appropriate to repeat what I call it, but let’s just say I have been on a prolonged losing streak. It has been more than a year since I have had a profitable trip to Atlantic City or Las Vegas and today was no exception.

There is hope for the future, though, since I have now stocked up on Lucky Glitter. You see, while I left a good deal of money behind today, I did leave Atlantic City with some of noahcat’s nectar of good fortune. I applied some today and it provided a brief boost in my play, but quickly succumbed to the greater power of my gambling slump. However, my new diet will consist of a dab of glitter with breakfast each morning, and (as I suggested during the meet) I will begin brushing my teeth with the glittery goo. So, if any of you see me during the next few months then don’t bother telling me that there is something stuck between my teeth. That is part of my plan.

I made this plan sometime after I realized my previous plan, just handing bushels of money to Boyd Gaming and MGM-Mirage, was a miserable failure. I started today playing $1 9/6 JoB, playing for a short time on my initial $100 buy-in. While playing, noahcat spied my LVA t-shirt, greeted me warmly, and went off in search of Cindy and Flip. She said Márcio had arrived safely, though without much rest during his travels. I will let him provide the details, but between the nightmares of the child sitting next to him on the plane and the jam-packed bus ride from New York it was a wonder he could stay awake during our meet.

Unfortunately for me, there was still time before the meet and I decided to try $2 9/6 JoB. You know everything that people say about not chasing your losses and trying for that big score. They’re right. Well, usually, though I can point you to a couple $5 9/6 JoB machines that have bailed me out of worse trips, but I will concede that playing above one’s bankroll is a bad idea. As usually happens with bad ideas, bad fortune followed and I quickly pissed away another couple hundred dollars.

That was enough to drive me to wander the casino looking for other LVA members. I found no one lingering outside the buffet, but did find Flip, actually, I think he found me first. Oddly enough, his pockets were not laden with huge wads of cash from Royal Flushes, so I expect he is saving that for tonight, but he was friendly as ever and was kind enough not to remind me of the success of the New England based sports franchises during this past season.

After depositing another $20 in various nickel slot machines, but watching noahcat build $20 into $100, we headed for the buffet to meet everyone. I had the pleasure of sitting with nevadaned, rcwkent, Márcio, and KennyA. The rest of the crowd at my table was fortunate enough to be out of range of my voice, so they did not have the pleasure of my witty banter. Others went so far as to sit at another table, as the Borgata buffet isn’t really equipped to offer a table for 15-20 people. We were visited by lvtravel, who had arrived at the buffet early, and pillacho, who was occupied somewhere in the casino when the rest of us were ready to eat. Come to think of it, I don’t think Cindy actually ate ANYTHING while she was with us during the meet.

The meal was pleasant, but does not compare with the quality of the company, as our east coast LVA members again proved to be “good people.” I have yet to meet a single member during one of these meets who has been anything but great company, while offering their own unique insights into the world of gambling, Las Vegas, and other casino destinations. Today was no exception. The only disappointment was that with such a large group I had little chance to talk with some of the members, including Nancy + Dennis (nancyd), David (brooklyndavid), and Kenny + Lynn (Ken8631), and I’m not even sure if Bill (ascites) or jenaphir made it to the meet. That’s just how big these meets are getting. If you missed this one then you blew it. We better see you next time we get this group together.

After three hours of brunch/dinner/conversation, Dick (rcwkent) and I were the last from our group to leave the buffet. Allowing time for the main courses to digest allowed us to make one last run at the deserts. Following that, we proceeded to video poker, where we passed by nevadaned playing his usual $0.50 9/6 JoB machines near the B-Bar. Dick had tried his luck at some $1 9/6 JoB just outside the entrance to the high-limit area earlier in the day, so we each took a shot at those again. I managed to lose only $100 here, thanks to the unusual combination of four of the same cards. I had not seen this particular hand in so long that I was beginning to doubt if anything above a full-house was even possible, however 4 Jacks came to my rescue. Unfortunately, my powers as a good luck charm did not help Dick, as it appears I can only pass luck onto those seated to my left. A man sitting next to me proved this by hitting 3 four-of-a-kinds (and 2 full houses) in less than 20 minutes. His only mistake was not playing double bonus, but how was he to know that he was dealing with forces much more powerful than any mathematician can explain.

I said goodbye to Dick and Ned, then searched in vain for Flip, noahcat, Cindy, or any remnants of our once mighty army of LVAers, but they were nowhere to be found, so I departed the Borgata and started my casino-parking garage exercise program to work off some of what I ingested earlier in the day. Whenever possible, I use the stairs to get to my car in a casino parking garage. I don’t particularly like elevators anyway, and I think I actually get to my car faster this way, but it is also a nice break from my normally sedentary lifestyle. Especially, at my first stop, the Trump Marina, where the path from the bottom of the parking garage stairs to the casino takes you through the bowels of the garage itself, emerging in the casino lobby, and then up another two-storey flight of stairs, before you finally reach the jungle of slot machines that contribute to the lavish lifestyle of The Donald.

The trip to Trump Marina was purely for business, specifically, to close out old business. A couple years ago, B.B. (Before Borgata), the Marina was my Atlantic City home. It occasionally offered a good crowd to play blackjack with and always boasted the second best video poker inventory (behind only Caesars) in town. Today, in these A.B. days, I find little reason to play at the Marina, except for their periodic “free slot days.” However, I had been holding onto one $100 chip from this casino and I feared that someday they might change their chips without me realizing and I would have been left with nothing more than a pretty picture of The Donald’s girlfriend. Now, it was a pretty picture, mind you, and it also had a cool effect that it actually looked like she was dancing when you tilted the chip back and forth, but it was getting kind of depressing to think that The Bob had as much chance of spending the night with this young lady as The Pope did (at least without putting his Papacy in serious jeopardy). Besides, it probably would have been a little creepy to keep this little $100 memento of someone else’s girlfriend lying around. Of course, most importantly, I just wanted the $100.

I took the $100 and ran, heading for some other old haunting grounds on the Boardwalk. When I first started gambling regularly, after reading Frugal Gambler and Comp City, and after joining the LVA, I had identified Caesars as offering the best slot club and best video poker in Atlantic City. This was pretty easy to identify at the time, since John Robison had done the research to prove this, so I made it a point to visit Caesars every time I was in town. I didn’t really plan to play today, but wanted to scope the place out in case I decide to re-establish myself with The Empire. I also wanted to pick up a Connection Club card, to replace my Emperors Club, MVP Club, and VIP Club cards from the Caesars Atlantic City casinos. I also visited Bally’s and left my $100 from the Marina with an old friend. That old friend being what may be the world oldest active video poker machine, a $1 9/6 JoB upright in the middle of the video poker room at the Wild Best. Before Bally’s installed the bank of 9/6 JoB progressives and before it absorbed the Claridge, this was its only $1 full pay machine, and I used to play it quite often, so I was a little surprised to see it still grinding along. I wanted to let the folks at Bally’s know that I was still alive in hopes of restoring my status for their weekly “Park & Ride” vouchers, so I do have some hopes of recouping this investment. I also left Caesars with some hope for the future, by hitting a four-of-a-kind on the quarter 9/6 JoB progressives that lurk underneath the escalators that lead to Cleopatra’s Garden of Slots.

I would just like to take a moment to thank those who have made it this far with me. In person I prefer to speak briefly and to the point, but in writing I sometimes have a tendency to ramble on, turning a relatively uneventful few hours of my life into an exponential amount more wasted time for anyone who makes this mistake of reading along in hopes of some dramatic conclusion. So, for those readers who are still waiting for that to happen I will let you in on a little secret. I just am not prone to do anything dramatic. I am a law abiding (except for the speed-limit) citizen who tries to go through life without making things difficult for others. That doesn’t lend itself to zany antics or anything that would warrant the amount of time you have already invested reading about my Sunday, April 24, 2005. However, unlike me, today is your lucky day, as there is some payoff at the end of THIS story, but I need your help.

Those who noticed the title of this adventure my be asking yourself, “What about the fork he mentioned,” or “When is he going to talk about the $#@(* fork?”. Well, fret no more. I will now explain.

Before departing the beautiful Borgata buffet I seem to have mysteriously acquired a fork that bears a striking resemblance to those that appear on each table inside the buffet. Actually, the acquisition of the fork was not mysterious at all, since it was my plan to pilfer this piece of flatware in honor of one LVA member who could not make this meet. However, I must now ask for the assistance of my fellow members to deliver this fork to justmare. I will not be in Las Vegas until late-June at the earliest or possibly not until mid-to-late-August, so I would like to start a bucket-brigade-like chain of LVA members to pass along the fork until it reaches Mare’s hands. We all know how fond she is of buffet forks, so I am looking for and LVA member who can meet me in Atlantic City and can start the fork traveling west. Who will step up and take this utensil to Sin City?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rio Ipanema Tower Room 1815 (3/2009)

Pictures from Rio Ipanema Tower Room 1815, from March 23-25, 2009.

Main Street Station Room 1709 (3/2009)

Pictures from Main Street Station Room 1709 from March 21-24, 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bally's Atlantic City Tower Room 4038 (2/2009)

Pictures from Bally's Atlantic City Tower Room 4038, from February 6, 2009.