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With Caesars Wharf, a $200 million luxury retail and dining spot adjacent to Caesars Atlantic City, opened last week, destinations in Southern New Jersey continue to transform into a gambling-laden city, not just a day trip.

The race for traditional visitors, which reached nearly 35 million in 2005, is expected to intensify in coming years as neighboring New York and Pennsylvania plan to open large slot machine casinos.

As needed, casinos in Atlantic City were forced to invest financially in their factories beyond the game floor to provide customers with more than just gambling.

“We have come to the conclusion that Atlantic City needs to innovate itself,” Deutsche Bank game analyst Bill Runner said.

Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk-dominated beach gaming community needs to provide customers with other reasons to visit, he said.

“A typical Atlantic City casino customer, a gambler focused on high frequency and convenience, will find the same slot machine closer to their home. That’s going to be a real issue for Atlantic City,” Lerner said. “It’s time to make significant capital investments in their properties to build those gaming-free amenities.”

Caesars Atlantic City, owned by Las Vegas-based Harrah’s Entertainment, is joining the change. The Pier at Caesars’ first retail store opened on Tuesday. By December, it is expected to have 90 stores and 10 restaurants.

The pier joins the quarter in Tropicana Atlantic City, which was the centerpiece of a $225 million resort expansion in 2004, offering retail and dining options to Atlantic City visitors. The 200,000-square-foot Havana-themed quarter has 30 retail stores and more than 20 restaurants.

Gary Simpson, senior vice president of development and finance at Aztar, the parent company of Tropicana, said the quarter was responsible for the casino’s increased customer traffic and gaming revenue. In 2005, Tropicana Atlantic City recorded $490.1 million in revenue, compared to $384.6 million in 2004.

“Obviously if you look at our numbers, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of casinos,” Simpson said. “More people are coming to Tropicana for The Quota and those are new to Atlantic City.”

Simpson said the quarter’s posh and trendy restaurants like Red Square, P.F. Chang’s and Palms are attracting younger and richer visitors to Atlantic City.

“We’ve seen it both visually and statistically. Our database has gotten younger because of The Quarter,” Simpson said.

Simpson said he didn’t think the opening of Pier would affect the Tropicana River. Although The Quarter is dominated by restaurants and entertainment venues, The Pier will bring luxury shopping to Boardwalk.

Some of Pier’s stores are upscale stores like Tiffany & Co and Wolfgang Puck restaurants, though they are standard in all mall directories such as Victoria’s Secret, Gymboree and Apple Stores.

This is a couture-only level with blue terrazo marble floors and you can buy Burberry clothing, Tiffany jewellery, and a Tourno watch.

Simpson said Peer’s retail is for a “bulk market” while the quarter’s retail is for a “bulk market.” He said these products would be easily absorbed into the market.

“People want more than just games, and Atlantic City is definitely underserved,” Simpson said. “There’s definitely room for more restaurants and more amenities. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of overlap.”

The 900-foot-tall sparkling pier stands in stark contrast to the nearby boardwalk, where you shop in stores advertising “Everything’s 99 cents” and gulls twirl around waiting for people to chew pizza slices to drop off crusts or pepperoni.

Sheldon Gordon, the developer of The Pier, built The Forum Shops in Caesars 14 years ago. The Strip shopping and entertainment complex is considered a catalyst that has transformed the city from a gambling mecca into a place to have fun and spend money without gambling.

After the forum shop, the new resorts were built along with the main retail locations of the Grand Canal Shop in Venice and the desert walkway in Aladdin.

Retail stores and other non-game facilities have changed the spending habits of Las Vegas visitors. In 2001, 50 percent of casino sales came from retail stores, restaurants, hotel rooms, and other non-game facilities. In 2004, 51 percent of sales were non-game facilities.

Runner said 90% of casino revenue comes from gaming in Atlantic City.

“There’s a lack of non-game revenue and it’s a big opportunity for casinos,” Runner said. “But it’s going to be expensive as well.”

In Las Vegas, spending on retail has more than doubled over the past decade. The average visitor spent $66.18 shopping in 1995. That figure increased to $136.60 in 2005.

Gordon said he thinks the docks in Atlantic City, which are connected by Skyway from Boardwalk to Caesars Atlantic City, could have the same impact on the New Jersey coast.

“It will change the overall attitude,” he said. 슬롯머신

Today, Atlantic City can do more than it did when Las Vegas opened a forum shop, he said.

The resort has been expanding for three years since Borgata opened in 2003. A joint venture between Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage, the property housed casinos and hotel rooms, as well as spas and restaurants run by out-of-town chefs such as Philadelphia’s Susanna Fu.


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