The race for the White House has officially kicked off but as yet Chris Christie hasn’t jumped in, but perhaps that’s because he’s still got a thorn in his side; Atlantic City
Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor that looks as if he didn’t just eat all the pies but the van that delivered them as well, doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break. Hovering at 18/1 on Bet365‘s book for the big race for the White House in 2016 he hasn’t been able to turn his moderated Republican position into a worthwhile swell of support, the sort a candidate needs when they’re considering the timing of their announcement of intention.
Stockton Plan Falls Through
• Showboat re-purposing strategy dead
• Campus can’t happen says neighbors
• Trump Entertainment block scheme
Not that Chris Christie really needs to announce anything, he’s lavished so much attention on Iowa now he could almost be a an ear of corn, and just about everything he’s done or said in the last six months has been aimed at clearing his way for a run at the big chair. Of course 18/1 are hugely generous odds, there are snowballs in hell who’ve more chance of becoming President next year, but then he’s a hugely huge man and so perhaps that’s fitting.
In theory he should be a fine candidate that those who like to bet on sports in US could easily bung a few bucks behind, he’s a Republican that has worked closely with those across the aisle, including the President himself during Hurricane Sandy, and whilst the hardcore wingnuts of the tea party persuasion probably see this as a betrayal many on the right understand that a win next November is going to have to be a little more inclusive the 53% Mitt Romney was prepared to care about.
However Christie still suffers from the crown of thorns that is his home state’s economy, and some of the notable failures his administration has wrought, not least amongst which, was the now rather regrettable decision to be quite so publicly supportive of the casino industry in Atlantic City, something that must have seemed like such a good idea at the time, but has turned out to be perhaps the most regrettable choice his administration made that didn’t involve bridges.
Christie’s Coastal Casino Crisis
Raking over the coals of Atlantic City‘s woes would be cruel, but suffice it to say that the closure of numerous casinos, a mainstay of the local economy, over the course of 2014 left it with an unemployment issue, a shortfall in taxation revenues and a bunch of large hulking great empty buildings littering the skyline like discarded toys on a bedroom floor. Having presented it as the jewel in the crown of regeneration, it’s rather a problem for Christie.
Whomever his opponents might be, and indeed from either within his own party or that opposite, he has unwittingly handed them a plentiful supply of ammunition that can be used to portray his economic track record as anything but successful, especially in the attack ads of the Super-PACs in which some key battleground state’s citizens will surely drown in due course. His public support for the gambling industry, particularly online gambling, has also put him at odds with big party donors.
It takes a lot of money to run for the Presidency, and some of the biggest contributors to Republican candidates don’t like internet gambling, they want US gambling laws, recently changed, reversed to prevent competition online for their real-world casinos. That’s why Christie has been slowing the progress of internet gambling businesses in his state despite having introduced the facility in the first place, and desperately trying to engineer a limitation-of-damage solution to Atlantic City‘s troubles.
The most obvious first step was to either sell on the casinos to other potential casino owners, a process that has seen more sudden appearances and last moment dramatic entrances than a bad daytime soap opera, or to re-purpose them in some manner to at least remove the blight of baseless buildings devoid of life. Unfortunately whilst on paper a large building with hundreds of rooms and large communal areas might look apt to be many things other than a casino, in Atlantic City nothing is as it seems.
New Use For Showboat Torpedoed By Trump
Stockton University, for instance, was quick to announce a plan to take over the former Caesar’s owned Showboat Casino, being desired of using it as a satellite campus that would look good in any prospectus, and also operate part of it as a public hotel. This received widespread local support, with employment opportunities, if not quite on the same scale as the one-time casino, and a welcome relief to the gloom of deserted old relics sprinkled on the city’s public face like pimples on an emo teenager.
However, somewhat like a frat house clown after a dozen tequilas, the entire deal is now in danger of complete collapse because the neighbors don’t want to be next door to a bunch of college kids. Remembering my own student daze, and I do mean daze, I can quite understand why, however it does seem a bit rich when those complaining are a casino, but the adjacent Taj Mahal has real issues with the plan and has a covenant from the 1980s to put it on a rather firm legal footing too.
Trump Entertainment have declined to waive the covenant signed in 1988 between the big casino operators that means Caesars agreed the Showboat would ALWAYS be operated as a first class casino hotel. A decision that scuppers this plan entirely, and led the Stockton President to say “We have been stabbed in the heart” although Trump Entertainment insists; “You do not see a college on the Las Vegas strip. Both Caesars and Stockton elected to proceed with the Showboat sale even though they were fully aware that we could not waive the casino/hotel covenant as they were asking.”
“The facts are that our company does not think having a college next door to the Taj is good for our company. Having kids under 21 who will attempt to gain entry to the casino and engage in activities reserved for those only 21 and older would create numerous problems we do not want, and could damage the Taj’s ability to attract customers and regain its financial health.” It continued, although to what degree being this unhelpful to the city’s recovery will be for it’s fiscal health is another matter.
It had been hoped they’d be more flexible in light of economic circumstance, but Trump Entertainment have decided against it, and with that, yet another plan to rejuvenate Atlantic City crashes like a breaker on the Broadwalk during a Spring storm. For Christie who I’m sure had been gambling news would be good, time is running out, and with the very industry he supported now turning its back on his manifest and evident political needs, he could just be faced with too much baggage to run for a bus let alone the White House in 2016.