[toc]The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, when it was founded in New Jersey in 1984, was supposed to spend money and be a tool for urban revitalization, especially in Atlantic City.
The CRDA’s mission changed over time, however. An in-depth report from the Press of Atlantic City showed almost half of the $1.8 billion spent by the CRDA on AC went towards the casino industry or tourism and attractions around the resorts.
What the Press of AC found
Here is the top-level take away from the Press of AC’s reporting on the CRDA:
The resolutions show clear shifts in priorities. One obvious example: Once envisioned as a unique tool of urban revitalization, the authority directed about half of the money toward the resort’s casinos and attractions.
That includes $456.7 million on noncasino projects like The Walk, Boardwalk Hall and the Convention Center. In addition, nearly $452 million — about a quarter of what CRDA invested in the city — went toward the casinos for projects like Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, The Pier Shops at Caesars (now The Playground), Resorts’ Margaritaville and several casino hotel expansions.
Helping casinos first
The CRDA’s website says it “uses casino reinvestments as a catalyst for meaningful, positive improvement in the lives of New Jersey residents statewide.” Much of the money, however, went directly back into AC and benefited the casino industry.
The Press of AC cited a New Jersey Policy Perspective report that said the following:
The casino industry – not Atlantic City – became a major beneficiary of CRDA’s investments that focused on new conference centers and restaurant facilities on casino premises.
Some CRDA money went to closed resorts
The story at the Press of AC also allows you to search by project name or amount spent by the CRDA, offering a handy tool to see where exactly money went. Some of the money went toward casinos that ultimately failed.
Three projects were designed to help resorts once connected to President Donald Trump. In total, $36 million went to projects benefiting Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal. The former closed several years ago; the latter resort casino closed this year:
Even more money went to Showboat, which closed before reopening as just a resort — with no gambling — last year. Developer Bart Blatstein bought the distressed property for far less ($23 million) than the CRDA spent on the resort over the years.