ATLANTIC CITY — Touting investments at casinos and throughout the city, a panel of gambling executives said Wednesday the city’s future is promising.
But to achieve that promise, the resort’s leaders have to work together to take advantage of opportunities, such as sports betting and increased development, to make the resort a true destination, said Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel, during the event hosted by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber.
“What’s missing in Atlantic City is the spirit of community,” Giannantonio said as he held a copy of The Press of Atlantic City from Memorial Day weekend 1967, which showed a thriving Boardwalk. “Back then, there were so many stakeholders involved. It’s been a missing component for the last 20-25 years.”
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The event at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel featured Giannantonio; Marcus Glover, president and chief operating officer of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa; Matthew Harkness, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City; and Tony Rodio, president and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment Inc.
“When you have competitive entities — and the casinos are competitive entities — talking about and encouraging a spirit of cooperation, I think that it’s really important that leadership have identified that as an issue,” said Joe Kelly, president of the chamber.
Harkness, an Atlantic City casino veteran, told the audience he was happy to be back in the area. The city, he said, has a bright future, although sometimes it tends to downplay its accomplishments.
“What I have seen is that this market is still robust,” he said.
Glover, who joined Borgata three months ago, said making better use of Atlantic City International Airport is an essential part of improving the local economy. He agreed the city’s economy is robust but said the city still suffers from negative perceptions outside New Jersey.
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Giannantonio said the future looks bright on the north end of the Boardwalk. Over the next year, several key projects are expected to open in that area, including Hard Rock, the Observation Wheel at Steel Pier and The Beach at South Inlet, a residential project on a grassy 4-acre lot bound by Atlantic, Pacific, New Jersey and Connecticut avenues.
“Things are really pointing up,” Giannantonio said. “We want to welcome everyone back to the neighborhood. We are really excited about Hard Rock joining and opening. We think that Hard Rock and the brand is going to be a dramatic uplift for Atlantic City and certainly for the north side of city.”