Atlantic City Casinos Reap Anti-Blight Funds

Some of the money to redevelop Atlantic City was spent to expand the Casinos?

The NY Times, January 28, 2007

Atlantic City Casinos Reap Anti-Blight Funds

By SERGE F. KOVALESKI

Seven years after New Jersey legalized gambling in 1977, state lawmakers created an agency called the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to redirect some casino revenue to blighted areas in Atlantic City and across the state.

But the agency, contending that the gambling industry’s success is a critical component of the state’s economic health, has handed about $400 million back to the casinos themselves, a sum that accounts for more than 20 percent of the money it has committed since its inception.

That approach began in 1994 and continued as gambling competition from other states intensified, Atlantic City’s chief legislative proponent expanded his political power, and the state eliminated the Department of the Public Advocate, which had criticized the agency’s move to distribute money to the casinos.

The authority has subsidized construction of 13,000 hotel rooms in the city, 800 of them planned for a tower under construction at the Trump Taj Mahal. The agency spent $3.7 million for an IMAX theater to be built at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, where its grants also helped finance three floors of elegant stores, restaurants and a spa. An additional $26 million went to help build the House of Blues and to spruce up the facade at Showboat.

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