By David Madden
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (CBS) – This weekend will be the first real test of how well Jersey Shore businesses have recovered from Hurricane Sandy. Atlantic City, though, has an additional task at hand, as they re-position themselves in an ever-changing casino industry.
If crowds on the boardwalk mean anything, visitors have put the Superstorm in the back of their minds. Getting them to open their wallets? That’s something else again.
But many long-time players remain committed to Atlantic City for their own reasons. Take Lou Dearstyne of Thornwood, New York. He got his hotel room comped at Bally’s.
“You have to pay for gas and tolls to come down,” Dearstyne said. “If you’re getting comped a room, you don’t mind losing a few hundred dollars.”
From government officials to casino bosses, the mantra has been the same: To survive with increased regional competition (Pennsylvania is now #2 in gaming behind Nevada) New Jersey has to offer more — like shopping. The outlets here get a lot of traffic, although Sheila Gloss of Chambersburg, Central Pennsylvania, does most of her buying on the boardwalk, out of economic necessity.
“We have fun looking at all the different stuff,” Gloss said. “The t-shirts just crack us up. So we bring a few of those home to people that need them.”
Kendra Winder of Philadelphia decided to spend her birthday here. “I found the shopping ok. I think the outlets are much better than the actual malls in Philly. You can get a lot of deals here.”
But her primary reason for coming to Atlantic City was hitting the Plinko machine. It’s a penny slot game based on a Price Is Right contest on TV. And for Kendra, a penny game is the right price for her.