Sin City Over Atlantic City? Don't Be Stupid

Planning an upcoming getaway to Las Vegas? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would like to provide you with this piece of advice before booking the flight:

"There is no reason people should go to Las Vegas in the summer," Christie said during a September 7 news conference to introduce the new head of New Jersey's casino fund authority. "Why would you go to the middle of the desert in the summer? You'd have to be stupid to do that."

"Stupid?" Yup, Mr. Christie took it there.

His comments, which also included him touting the area's beaches, aren't exactly shocking since his state is home to Atlantic City, which the American Gaming Association ranks as the No. 2 gambling market ($3.573 billion in 2010) behind, you guessed it, Las Vegas (5.77 billion in 2010).

To top things off, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reported a 19.8% decline in Atlantic City casino revenues last month due to casinos being shutdown as a result of Hurricane Irene.

So, would it be "stupid" to choose Sin City over Atlantic City?

Nevada's first-term governor, Brian Sandoval, didn't respond to requests for comment. However, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in an email that Christie is "a fabulous public servant who is always working to help his state." But, she also added that "a little heat with our state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, climate-controlled resorts, is certainly much more inviting than having to deal with some of the weather they have had to endure in New Jersey recently. We certainly wish those who have suffered through the hurricane, flooding and recent earthquake the best as they work to rebuild their lives."

And with that, folks, the great debate begins. Should tourists tough out the summer heat of Vegas over the coastal scenery of Atlantic City? Or would it be wise to stroll down an Atlantic City boardwalk instead of tipping street performers on Las Vegas sidewalks? Oh, and let's not forget the most important debate: Celine Dion at Caesars Palace or ZZ Top at the Borgata?

"There is a little truth to that, that Atlantic City does have a lot of natural advantages that Las Vegas doesn't have," said David G. Schwartz, the director of The Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who was born and raised in Atlantic City. "The question is what are you looking for? Las Vegas has more of the complete, tourist vacation package right now. But Atlantic City has the potential to catch up and I like what the properties are doing right now."

A couple of Vegas tourists snapping pictures in front of the popular "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign on Las Vegas Boulevard, who have traveled to both gambling hot spots, had this to say about the debate.

"Vegas still has a mystique about it," said Chicago-native Curtis Sims. "I've been (to Las Vegas) several times, but I still like Vegas better than Atlantic City.

Emily Whitaker, a Las Vegas tourist who now lives in California but once resided in the New Jersey area, said it really all depends on what you're looking for.

"If you want to experience Jersey, go to Atlantic City," said Whitaker. "But if you want to experience the world, come to Vegas."

So it looks like the final verdict is & it all depends on your preference. If you're looking to gamble and don't mind the heat, head to Sin City. If you prefer a boardwalk to walk off your frustration after spending way too much money, book a flight to New Jersey.

Apparently, the tough decisions are no longer reserved just for the poker table.