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Atlantic City reinvents itself as Vegas East

Faced with competition, resort town embarks on biggest building boom in 24 years. But will it work?

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – When people say you can’t miss the new casino in town, they’re not kidding. Rising like twin stacks of King Midas’ treasure, the $1 billion gold-plated Borgata lords over the marina, the city, and, it would seem, the fortunes of the Eastern seaboard. And it won’t even be finished for a year.

In a city lavished with architectural and financial excess, the brio of the project suggests a city staking claim as the East Coast’s gambling mecca.

Yet Atlantic City’s future is far from certain. Faced with growing competition from casinos on Indian lands and other gaming ventures, the city is undertaking the biggest building boom in 24 years in a quest to reinvent itself.

Concerned about its fusty image as the kingdom of the 25-cent slot UFABet player, Atlantic City’s magnates want to grab a younger and wealthier clientele in search of fine dining, music, lavish hotels, and shopping. In short: They want to transform the low-heeled Boardwalk into the stiletto-pump Las Vegas Strip.

Yet the move will test whether a city that has tied its economy almost …

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