Did the gamble on Atlantic City not pay off?

Atlantic City

The old saying is that numbers don’t lie. Numbers are what they are; interpret them how you will.

Here are a few for you to ponder:

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• Five: How many of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos lost money on an operating basis for the first nine months of the fiscal year, through September

• One: How many Atlantic City casinos went out of business this year — the Atlantic Club — plus one more — Revel — which is up for sale following bankruptcy

• $10.3 million: The amount of revenue from online wagering in New Jersey in February, on pace for $123.6 million for the year, well short of Gov. Christie’s original $1 billion forecast.

• $12 million: The estimated tax revenue from internet gambling through the end of the fiscal year in June, compared to the forecast of $160 million

• $235 million: The amount of gambling revenue brought in by AC casinos last year, a 35 percent drop from 2012, a year that included a casino shutdown due to Hurricane Sandy

• 39: The number of states that offer casino gambling, compared to two in 1988

• 2 million: The number of visitors Atlantic City bused in from surrounding areas last year, compared to 14 million not long ago

The numbers don’t lie — not only is Atlantic City failing, so is gambling nationwide. Even in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world, gambling revenue was down to “only” $6.5 billion last year.

New casinos in that Nevada city are focusing on other luxurious offerings other than gambling, such as restaurants, nightclubs, pools, shopping, spas and entertainment.

Over the last few years, Atlantic City has begun to do the same with the Tanger Outlets, The Pier Shops at Caesars and the dining and nightlife at the Borgata.

But is it enough? The numbers would say that it’s not, or at the very least, that more needs to be done to make Atlantic City a bigger tourist destination, serving more than just the gambler.

Like it or not, Atlantic City is vital for the state’s economy. Lucky for us, it has easy access, beachfront property and plenty of name recognition to bounce back in a serious way.

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