Atlantic City’s sand drama: How storms and casinos fight for shore before the summer season

by Staff

Atlantic City, a city whose identity is inextricably linked to the ocean and beaches, now faces a serious problem: too much of the Atlantic is threatening its existence. Winter storms mercilessly erode the coastline, leaving casinos desperate for sand before the summer season begins. This problem not only threatens the city’s tourist appeal but also calls into question its long-term survival.

Beach erosion: a silent threat to Atlantic City

Winter storms have dealt a devastating blow to the northern part of the city. The beaches, once wide and inviting, are now a pitiful sight: the sand has disappeared, leaving only bare patches at low tide. This is not just an aesthetic problem. Beaches are a fundamental part of Atlantic City’s tourism economy. Without them, the city loses its uniqueness among the many other gambling venues in the region and the country.

Three northern casinos – Ocean Casino Resort, Resorts, and Hard Rock – have been on the front lines of this battle with nature. Their management has been pressing federal and state agencies to expedite a beach replenishment project that was supposed to be completed as recently as last year. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for such work, predicts the new sand won’t be available until late summer at the earliest. That puts the casinos in a difficult position.

Erosion not only reduces recreational space, it creates hazards. Of the twelve beach entrances along the three casinos, only two are accessible. The rest drop off into the void, with sharp drops in elevation that threaten serious injury to careless visitors. This situation is unacceptable for a family-oriented resort.

Fighting for sand: temporary measures and long-term solutions

Casinos are not sitting idly by. Last summer, Ocean Casino spent $600,000 to have sand delivered by truck. But that solution proved short-lived: by the end of the season, all the sand had been washed away. Ocean’s project manager, Ian Jerome, emphasizes the unsustainability of this approach. Waves now reach the dunes, which themselves are subject to erosion, creating a vicious cycle of destruction.

Federal funding of $25 million of the needed $30 million is available. However bureaucratic procedures are slowing the process. The contract won’t be put out to bid until April or May, and work will begin in the summer or fall. A spokesman for the Corps of Engineers, Stephen Rochette, recognizes the problem of accelerated erosion of northern beaches and promises to explore technical improvements to the project. In the meantime, the sand shortage is scheduled to be eliminated by the end of June.

Compounding the problem is the fact that Atlantic City has yet to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only three of the nine casinos are generating more revenue from visitors than they did before the crisis. 

Not to be overlooked is the rise in popularity of online gambling, which has dealt a serious blow to land-based casinos not only in Atlantic City but around the world. A simple and fast mostbet register allows you to start gambling or betting right from your phone or computer. It goes without saying that in such conditions people do not really want to go anywhere. And the beaches of Atlantic City in such a situation become even more important, as they help to attract people indifferent to land-based casinos.

Sand as a basis for survival: lessons from Atlantic City

Atlantic City’s history shows how nature and economy are closely linked. A city that built its reputation on seaside recreation – from saltwater taffy to swimsuit beauty pageants – now struggles to preserve its essence. That struggle goes beyond a single season. It’s a matter of long-term planning and adapting to changing conditions.

Mark Giannantonio, president of Casino Resorts and the New Jersey Casino Association, calls for a “lighter” version of beach replenishment in early summer. It’s a temporary measure, but it shows the reality of the threat. Sand isn’t just a decoration, it’s the foundation of a city’s existence.

Atlantic City is a microcosm of global issues. Climate change, rising sea levels, and more frequent and stronger storms are all challenging coastal cities around the world. The struggle for sand here symbolizes the broader struggle to adapt to a new reality.

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