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As Atlantic City Housing Stumbles, Las Vegas Rebounds

Welcome back to Property Lines, a column by veteran real estate reporter Alexei Barrionuevo. Each week on Tuesday, Barrionuevo will report on housing trends, real estate deals, and major business moves right here on Curbed.

The glassy Revel is one of four Atlantic City casinos that shuttered last year. Photo by John Moore / Getty Images

Take a drive through Atlantic City these days and your eyes tell you a lot about this struggling mecca to East Coast gambling. Whole streets of row homes are dark at night and clearly abandoned. The famed boardwalk is a depressing mix of homeless people, police in cruisers and on bikes, women soliciting massages, and agitated drug addicts.

Foreclosures have ballooned and the numbers are getting worse as the city teeters on the brink of bankruptcy. The closure of four large casinos last year, putting some 8,000 people out of work, are only adding to the pain. Nationally, foreclosure auctions reached their lowest level in 10 years in November, but Atlantic City posted the country's highest foreclosure rate for the fifth consecutive month. One in every 307 Atlantic City homes had a foreclosure filing, more than four times the national average, according to RealtyTrac. Today, you can buy a three-bedroom home there for $15,000.

Across the country in Las Vegas, the world's most famous gambling destination, the situation is different. Home prices are inching back up and the number of foreclosures, once stratospheric, has fallen precipitously from 2013 levels. Why have the two recoveries been so different?

In a word: gambling >>