ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Do not pass the casinos if you want to collect $200_ or more.
That's the new marketing mantra in the nation's second-largest gambling market.
Atlantic City is using life-sized promotions exhibits capitalizing on its first-in-the-nation Boardwalk to try to drive new business into its casinos, where patrons can also lose $200 – or more.
Bally's Atlantic City has constructed a large outdoor replica of the Monopoly board, complete with oversized dice, green houses, red hotels and game pieces such as the silver car. Tourists are encouraged to walk on it, and many stop to take photos on or in front of it.
"You hear all your life about how Monopoly is based on Atlantic City and you play the game all your life, and now we're actually here, on the real Boardwalk!" said Shirley Theal of Niagara Falls, Canada. She and two traveling companions were walking on the Monopoly board Tuesday morning in between a casino jaunt and a boat ride to see dolphins.
"It's the perfect spot for it," said Pat Wilson, also of Niagara Falls. "It's a lot of fun."
Of course, the main goal is to get more people to come into the casinos and gamble. Don Marrandino, eastern division president of Caesars Entertainment, which owns four Atlantic City casinos including Bally's, said it has seen an uptick on Boardwalk foot traffic into the casino since the Monopoly board went up Sept. 1. The board is tied in to a Monopoly-themed promotion inside the casino in which players club members collect game pieces for a shot at $500,000.
"We're getting a great customer response to it," he said.
France Duff of Welland, Ontario, Canada, gambled for a while before strolling around the Monopoly board, which she seemed to enjoy just as much.
"I'm really impressed," she said as she walked on squares including the Reading Railroad, Jail (Just Visiting), and Baltic Avenue. "I love everything out here: the sounds, the sights, all the people here on the Boardwalk."
As any Monopoly player can tell you, Boardwalk and Park Place are priciest real estate on the game board. The real-life game board is located, not coincidentally, at Boardwalk and Park Place.
A bit further south on the Boardwalk is a life-sized replica of the storefronts that appear in the hit HBO series "Boardwalk Empire." The series depicting Prohibition-era Atlantic City begins its second season later this month, and Atlantic City has created several promotions to try to capitalize on the nationwide publicity the show is generating for the gambling resort.
The facade project was the brainchild of Pinky Kravitz, the legendary local radio host, newspaper columnist and tireless Atlantic City booster, who was looking for a way for tourists to connect present-day Atlantic City with the fictionalized 1920s version they see in the TV show.
"I saw the show and I went to the set in Brooklyn where it was filmed, and people were always asking me, `Why didn't they film it in Atlantic City?'" he said. "It's because this is 2011 Atlantic City and they needed 1920s Atlantic City. It's not the same as what was in the show.
"I woke up from a dream one night and a voice said to me, `Build a facade,'" Kravitz said.
Convinced that if he built it, they would come, he set out to raise the $20,000 in private funds needed for the exhibit, which has become a popular photo-taking spot in what previously was a barren stretch of Boardwalk.
"The show is one of the best HBO shows of all time, and it's all about Atlantic City," Marrandino said. "These are iconic things that are based right here in our resort, and they've become really good tourist attractions."
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC