With Hurricane Sandy behind them, crowds are returning to Atlantic City’s casinos for New Year’s celebrations.
“New Year’s Eve is the busiest day of the year,” said Tom Pohlman, general manager for Golden Nugget Atlantic City.
The week culminating in New Year’s Eve has been traditionally a money-maker for Atlantic City. Last year, the results of that week helped the local casino industry post its first increase in gambling revenue, compared with the same month a year earlier, in 40 months, officials said at the time.
This year, crowds are expected at casinos for well-known acts, such as Kanye West and 3 Doors Down, in addition to Life in Color, an electronic music concert set for Bader Field tonight.
The flurry of activity comes as the industry struggles to rebound from two consecutive months of record low gambling revenues. Officials attribute the dismal performance to lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy, which decimated parts of the Northeast but spared Atlantic City’s Tourism District. Marketing officials said misconceptions about the damage Sandy wreaked continue to deter visitors.
“Overall, we remain very concerned about the misperception that our Boardwalk is destroyed,” Jeff Guaracino, chief strategy officer for the Atlantic City Alliance, said in an email. He also said the alliance would conduct a research study after the New Year to better gauge whether those misconceptions persist.
Kentucky residents Bill and Candy Boykin, both 54, said the first thing friends asked them upon hearing about the couple’s visit to Atlantic City was whether the trip was wise because of Sandy.
“A lot of people asked us that,” Bill Boykin said, adding he grew more comfortable there was no extensive damage after researching the topic on the Internet.
The couple and their three sons, ages 19 through 23, said in addition to spending time with each other, they were intending to catch the Kanye West concert.
While this was the Boykins’ first visit to Atlantic City, Frank and Donna Voldenberg, of Scranton, Pa., were in their 10th year of visiting the resort after the holidays. The couple live only a short distance from several casinos in their home state, but every year make the 3 ½-hour drive to Atlantic City after Christmas, arriving Friday.
“We save our money for Atlantic City,” Frank Voldenberg, 57, said.
Donna Voldenberg, 53, who works in retail, said she likes to use the time after the busy shopping season to unwind in Atlantic City.
“It’s my reward,” she said. “It’s a getaway.”
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