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Working Papers

May 2023, No. 23-07

The Economic Impact of a Casino Monopoly: Evidence from Atlantic City

Adam Scavette

New Jersey voters approved legalized gambling for Atlantic City in a 1976 referendum, making it the second state after Nevada in 1931. The state explicitly leveraged the city's regional monopoly, which it held from 1978 through 1992, on casinos east of the Mississippi River as an economic development strategy to revive the blighted seaside resort town. The literature on the economic development effects of casinos suggests that sparsely populated areas without nearby competing gambling venues tend to benefit the most. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I model the economic impact of casino legalization on the Atlantic City Metropolitan Area (Atlantic County, NJ) across five-, ten-, and fifteen-year treatment horizons. I find a significant positive impact of legalized casinos on personal income and housing prices for only the five-year treatment horizon, and significant positive impacts for payroll employment and wages across all three treatment horizons.


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