Provocative Billboard Stirs Up Controversy in Atlantic City, NJ

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some claim the billboard promoted prostitution (Published Sunday, Feb 2, 2014)

    (NECN/NBC News: Ted Greenberg) -  "When I see it down tomorrow, then I'll be more happy," said Sharon Kelly.

    Kelly didn't have to wait until then for a controversial billboard to disappear from Atlantic City's tourism district. Workers took it down hours after we started asking questions.

    "It should have never went up."

    Kelly and others became outraged after the billboard arrived a few weeks ago, feet from casinos and outlet shops. Its message to students: “Need a summer job? Date a sugar daddy.” The billboard for dating website “arrangementfinder.com” also featured former porn star Bree Olson.

    Social worker Cara Runkle led the charge for the billboard to be removed.

    Runkle said, "They're billing, 'Come down, come down to Atlantic City, family friendly…and this is the billboard that you see?"

    A spokesman for the website denies that the ad promotes prostitution or an escort service.

    He says the site caters to those looking for a mutually beneficial arrangement and relationships that occur over time.

    He said the billboard was supposed to stay up all summer.

    I called the billboard company repeatedly and by 2 p.m., was told its owner agreed with critics that the sign was inappropriate and it would be removed tomorrow.

    But just over an hour later, it was gone.

    "They knew that it was inappropriate. How can you not know? You have a porn star on there," said Runkle.

    The billboard company says it wants to apologize to the community for the sign and if a replacement ad goes up, it will be of an appropriate nature.