I'm a cheap gambler, so I wasn't liking Atlantic City as much as I like Las Vegas. In Vegas, I know where to find a $5 blackjack table -- an endangered species -- but here in a town that tries to emulate The Strip, I couldn't find a table that would accept a bet of less than $25.
So I did what I do in Vegas when the cards run cold: I went outside for a little people-watching. Out on the wide Boardwalk on a brisk afternoon in early spring, I found a sidewalk table where I could get a glass of wine and see who else was taking a break from the casinos.
Thirty years after legalized gambling opened here, Atlantic City attracts a very different crowd than Las Vegas -- mostly gamblers on day trips from New York, Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. Fewer people spend the night, so it doesn't have the number of shows and fine restaurants or draw as many fancy dressers. Visitors tend to be more single-mindedly focused on gambling.
For a casual gambler like me, the charm of Atlantic City is the Boardwalk, the heart of the city's legacy as a seaside resort. The Boardwalk does bear some resemblance to sections of the Vegas Strip, with shops selling T-shirts and tacky souvenirs interspersed with a few high-end shops, but has the benefit of the seaside ambience -- and cafe tables where you can smell the salt air -- to soften it. And then there's the salt water taffy, a guilty pleasure in my house, in the place where it was invented.
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This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states.