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Atlantic City Teeters on the Edge

The seaside gambling resort town is trying to reinvent itself even as it stands on the brink of fiscal ruin.

A casino stands behind an empty parking lot in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Jan 20.

Brimming with promise but ground down by poverty, Atlantic City is trying to reinvent itself even as it teeters on the edge of fiscal ruin. Its perception as a seedy locale is just one of several hurdles.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A man pushes a walking aid past an adult novelty store on Jan. 20.

The city has been devastated by the quick collapse of its one-time monopoly on East Coast casino gambling and could see its cash flow run dry by April. The ravaged local economy laid bare the city's bloated budget and over dependence on a single industry.

 

 

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A house stands near the Revel Atlantic City, a casino and resort that opened in 2012 and closed in 2014, on Jan 21.

Developer Glen Straub has said that he plans to reopen the shuttered resort with a casino, although a smaller one than what was there before.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A napkin and glass stand on an empty table inside a boardwalk restaurant on Jan. 20.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A man waits for customers at his pedicab outside the Playground Pier, a luxury shopping mall, on Jan. 20.

Even as local elected officials are faced with the potential of a state takeover, they hope some seeds they planted to clean up crime-ridden areas and diversify the economy could begin bearing fruit before long.

A push to bring in more conventions is aimed at transforming the casino-heavy town with a seedy image into a family-friendly destination.

 

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A locked fence in front of The Water Club Hotel, connected to the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, on Jan. 19.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

The side of Harrah's Resort Atlantic City advertises for new slot machines on Jan 20.

In 2014, four of Atlantic City's 12 casinos went out of business. 

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

Atlantic City police officers question men on the sidewalk along Atlantic Avenue on Jan. 20.

When four big casinos closed in 2014, jobs became even more scarce and foreclosures ballooned. Despite the economic hardships, crime in Atlantic City fell by 9.3 percent in 2015 through November, compared to the same period the previous year, and has been declining for most of the last decade, according to state police data compiled by Reuters.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A man rides his bicycle past a boarded-up building on Jan. 19.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A man looks at the ocean through the windows of the Playground Pier, a luxury shopping mall, on Jan. 20.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

A man walks with a dog along an empty sidewalk one block away from the boardwalk on Jan. 19.

SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters