Hot Summer In The City

Atlantic City's gaming industry has weathered a steep downslide, but, even so, summer months traditionally provide salvation for the casinos there. After all, A.C. is blessed with an oceanfront location. So if you can spend your days on the beach and your nights at the tables, what's wrong with that? Considering its natural attractors, Atlantic City usually goes easy on the comps each summer. Apparently that has changed. With increased competition from casinos in Philadelphia and the racino at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, N.Y., things may be getting a little desperate.

If desperate times lead to desperate measures, then the Atlantic City casinos are definitely right where they should be. This summer has been a bonanza for gamblers who venture down to Vegas by the Sea. The Borgata is signifying its 10th anniversary by giving away more than $100,000 over the course of 10 weeks. Caesars Entertainment—the parent company behind Caesars A.C., Bally's, Harrah's and Showboat—has a Millionaire Maker promotion, which is exactly what it sounds like: a series of gaming opportunities for players to stumble upon $1 million.

Down-and-dirty Atlantic Club, the casino that PokerStars hoped to take over in order to get a toehold in A.C.'s burgeoning online poker realm, allows customers to use casino comps like cash in local businesses. Revel, which went through a brutal Chapter 11 and didn't help itself by not allowing smoking on the premises (a silly rule that has since been flip-flopped), spent the month of July crediting slot players for losses between $100 and $100,000. The casino is now giving away free gas cards, 48 free cars between August 29 and September 1, and matching slot promotions offered by rival Atlantic City operators.

Most audacious of all, Trump Taj Mahal will be burying $200,000 worth of cash vouchers in the sand behind the hotel. Gamblers will go out with shovels and dig them up. Maybe somebody at the Taj overheard Revel marketing man Randall Fine who commented to the Press of Atlantic City on his casino's new slogan "Gambler's Wanted." "I think it's not a bad idea to show gamblers that we want their business," he told the Press. "‘Gamblers Wanted' should be the slogan for Atlantic City as a whole."

Getting them, of course, has proven to be a whole other issue.

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