Atlantic City Experiences Sharp Growth in Visitors
Atlantic City experienced a major spike in visitors over a twelve day period from June 27th to July 8th.
The Atlantic City Expressway Pleasantville Toll Plaza recorded 818,255 vehicles passing through, according to the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which is 49,220 more than the same period in 2017.
This increased traffic to and from the city was determined to be influenced by the newly opened Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino, as well as Sam Hunt’s beach concert on July 1.
The crowds continued even as the sun set.
Even when the city had more operating casinos in the prior years, the 2018 visitation numbers were higher during this recent period with estimations of nearly 1 million visitors.
Numbers that would be more in line with the Atlantic City of 100 years ago.
When crowds during the summer was an annual routine, as city dwellers had fewer options for escaping Philadelphia and New York.
A time when Atlantic City was still viewed as a resort for the rich and famous, not as a seedy "has been" city that can't compete with Las Vegas.
Still crowded in the 1890s!
The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain even had one of their premier flagship hotels on the boardwalk of Atlantic City, which was made famous in the HBO show Boardwalk Empire.
However, the recent surge in visitors doesn't even account for the nearby residents of Atlantic City and those shore points accessible without using the Atlantic City Expressway.
Towns like Ventnor, NJ above and Margate, NJ have up to 100,000 summer residents who frequent the gambling halls of Atlantic City on a nightly basis without having to use the Expressway. More accurate methods of collecting visitation data is still needed, as stated by former SJTA analyst Anthony Marino.
This flood of visitors projects promising results for the remainder of the summer and continued growth in the near future. But, many people worry that even with the new casinos, the declines of years past will continue and Atlantic City will continue to suffer from new casino developments in the Catskill Mountains outside of New York City.
Furthermore Pennsylvania continues to expand the amount of casinos it has allowed to open luring ever more people from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington DC away from Atlantic City. Many casinos were worried when 2018 attendance numbers showed continued losses, but there is hope those losses were due to an unusually cold winter.
Written by Jonathan Baron, Edited by Rachel Weissman, Alexander Fleiss