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How Atlantic City’s promise failed its black community

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Atlantic City apparently didn’t see it coming.

Thirty-five years ago, when the first of the casinos began to dot the boardwalk, there was a virtual monopoly in casino gaming in the region.

There also appeared to be no voice from the black community surrounding the inception and subsequent failure of the gambling industry in Atlantic City. There was no champion to assure that the benefits of the cash flowing from the casinos would lead to revitalization.

And, more importantly, there was no backup plan looking toward the future to insulate against the inevitable collapse of the city’s gaming monopoly.

As a result, you see what is happening today. Thousands of  casino workers will soon be joining the ranks of the unemployed in this historically blighted city as four of the city’s eleven casinos will be closed in mere weeks.

Author Nelson Johnson, the writer of Boardwalk Empire, once referred to Atlantic City, New Jersey, as “a plantation by the sea.” And when you examine the socio-economic history of the city, you can see why.

Since the first casino emerged along the Atlantic City boardwalk, the political line was that the casinos would be a boon to the local community. Critics of the city say over the past three decades no attention was given to making the place a tourist destination for anything other than gambling.

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