11:24 AM EDT, July 15, 2014
Not long ago it was a gambling mecca with luxury hotels and casinos and a world-famous boardwalk.
But today, Atlantic City is in crisis, with four of its 12 casinos closing and 8,000 people thrown out of work.
"Scared is the best way to describe it. You don't know where you are going to go. You don't know how you are going to pay your mortgage," said Atlantic City resident Karen DiPierro.
The Atlantic Club Casino closed in January. The Showboat will close in six weeks. The two billion dollar Revel, Atlantic City's newest and most luxurious resort, opened just two years ago and has already filed for bankruptcy.
The 20-year-old Trump Plaza, which is no longer owned by Donald Trump, is set to close in September.
Watch Tourists and Residents React to Atlantic City's Crisis
"What is going to happen to these people's jobs? What about employment? I think it's a horrible, horrible thing," said resident Madeline Cooney.
Signs of a slump are everywhere—shabby buildings, abandoned homes and empty lots.
So, what happened? Dozens of new casinos have opened in neighboring states, so gamblers don't have to travel all the way to Atlantic City.
Broadcaster Pinky Kravitz is known as Mr. Atlantic City. He told INSIDE EDITION, "It is a truly sad situation. We were the lone kid on the block when we started out on the whole East Coast. You take a look. Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Boston is now considering it."
Las Vegas faced a similar problem and survived by changing to an entertainment destination. Today, only 30 percent of Las Vegas revenue comes from gambling. Experts believe Atlantic City must do the same.
Travel expert Karen Schaler told INSIDE EDITION, "I think one thing that would really help Atlantic City is to diversify—what Las Vegas did. Add in top entertainment. Focus on culinary. Focus on family-friendly. Then, people have more options and more reason to go to Atlantic City."
Just last month, Lady Gaga's Atlantic City boardwalk concert was a sell out—a hopeful sign Atlantic City can reinvent itself.
Schaler said, "They need to do what they do best, go back to their roots and try and get that loyal following back and say, 'We're Atlantic City. We're still awesome. Give us another chance.' "