Atlantic City marketing officials have something really big in mind to pitch the resort as a vacation destination to tourists.

So big, in fact, that it will be transported by truck, assembled and then opened up for tours.

They are calling it a "pop-up casino resort" - a custom-made, two-story structure that will hit the road as a showpiece of the "Do AC" marketing campaign developed by the Atlantic City Alliance.

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Sporting a $100,000 price tag, the mini-casino will feature separate rooms offering different types of "experiences" to give tourists a taste of the resort life.

In one room, for instance, tourists will be pampered with a five-minute massage not unlike what they would receive at a casino spa. Another room will have simulated gambling on a roulette wheel. Other rooms will feature dining and entertainment attractions.

"Each room is themed with all the amenities that you can find in our fabulous resorts," said Jeff Guaracino, chief strategy and communications officer for the Atlantic City Alliance, a private marketing group funded by the casinos.

It was the alliance that developed the widely publicized, $20 million advertising campaign that urges tourists to "Do AC." Taking the campaign directly to tourists, the alliance is planning a series of "Live from AC" road shows this month in Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York. The first one kicks off Friday in Philadelphia on the Delaware River waterfront.

Liza Cartmell, president of the alliance, said something eye-catching was needed to generate a huge buzz and stand out from the clutter. As a result, the mini-casino was created for the alliance by BMF Media Group in New York.

"We specifically made the decision to buy it because we think we can use it as an asset for a number of years," Cartmell said.

Weighing 13,000 pounds, the structure is 40 feet long, 14 feet high and 10 feet wide, Guaracino said.

"This is a very big and aggressive public relations push. We wanted to get out in a big way," he said of both the mini-casino and the alliance's road show.

The interior of the structure includes TVs, furniture, a photo booth, a DJ booth, a roulette table and a piece of Atlantic City's world-famous Boardwalk. Guaracino called it a multimedia wonder, complete with recharging stations for portable electronic devices.

Alliance officials are hoping the attraction will be seen by thousands of potential Atlantic City tourists. The first stop will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the "Taste of Philadelphia" festival at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing. Guaracino estimated the Philadelphia festival could attract 150,000 people on Saturday alone, giving the alliance a huge audience to tap for tourism.

Next up, the alliance will roll into Baltimore on July 19 to 21 for the city's "Artscape" festival, an event expected to attract 350,000 people. A final stop is planned in late July in New York, with the dates and location still to be decided.

The idea is to hit major feeder markets for Atlantic City tourism. The multimedia "Do AC" campaign, launched last year amid great fanfare, concentrates on Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York, although the ads also run in other markets in the Northeast corridor.

When the road show is done, the mini-casino will return to Atlantic City for local events. The alliance is still discussing where to locate the sprawling structure. It is too heavy for the Boardwalk and simply is not built for the beach, Cartmell explained.

Contact Donald Wittkowski:


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