Making the News

Press of Atlantic City

Originally Published:Thursday, April 17, 2008

"In one sense, you have to give the Hilton credit for thinking outside the box, but you have to be careful that it doesn't speak to the unseemly side of Atlantic City," said Joseph Weinert, senior vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group. "On a limited basis, this may not be a big thing, but certainly if a casino were to get into the cash for gold business, that would raise a lot of eyebrows in town."

No gold rush at the Hilton casino

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Press of Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY - The Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort's attempt to stake a claim in the gold business has gone bust.

The casino learned Wednesday that the city has no more licenses available for secondhand gold sales, so it must scrub a "Sell your gold for cash" event scheduled April 25-27 in its ballroom.

"At this point, the show is off," said Capt. William McMenamin of the Atlantic City Police Department. "I don't know how from a law enforcement requirement it meets the ordinance. The licenses are full."

In 1983, a city ordinance capped the number of licenses for "cash for gold" stores at 32. Currently, there are 32 secondhand gold shops in town, so the Police Department turned down a belated request for a license by a gold-buying company that was supposed to stage the Hilton event.

"It's unfortunate that it seems they ran with it and did things kind of quick. They should have checked," McMenamin said.

 

Police officials met Wednesday with representatives of Get Cash Gold Inc. of Owings Mills, Md., to tell them of the licensing problem. Hilton officials did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

In an interview Monday, a Hilton executive said the event would give casino customers a convenient way to sell their old gold at a time when the precious metal has been flirting with near-record prices.

"I don't liken this to a pawn shop, but a convenience," Phil Juliano, the Hilton's senior vice president of marketing, said then.

Juliano also noted that the gold sale would boost business at the Hilton by giving gamblers extra cash to play the slot machines and gaming tables.

A Hilton billboard overlooking the Atlantic City Expressway entices customers with the words "Sell your gold for cash!" and "boost your profits." The billboard, now likely to be taken down, was a centerpiece of a multimedia advertising campaign for the event.

Despite Juliano's attempts to dismiss comparisons to pawn shops, one casino analyst cautioned the Hilton not to appeal to Atlantic City's seedier past at a time when the resort is trying to remake its image into a more upscale, Las Vegas-style tourist destination.

"In one sense, you have to give the Hilton credit for thinking outside the box, but you have to be careful that it doesn't speak to the unseemly side of Atlantic City," said Joseph Weinert, senior vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group. "On a limited basis, this may not be a big thing, but certainly if a casino were to get into the cash for gold business, that would raise a lot of eyebrows in town."

In a 1999 report disputed by gaming supporters, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission used Atlantic City's pawn shops and cash for gold stores to illustrate the negative impacts allegedly caused by casinos on local businesses.

To e-mail Donald Wittkowski at The Press:

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