Last year, it seemed that investors in Atlantic City casino stocks flopped a winning hand. This year, however, a series of looming negative issues are shaping the city into a "bad beat."Later this month, the Atlantic City Council is expected to approve a smoking ban in casinos, which likely will hurt gaming revenue in the short run. Moreover, casinos in the city are now facing heightened competition from rival markets. "This is going to be a very challenging year for Atlantic City," says Joe Weinert, a consultant with Spectrum Gaming Group. There are a dwindling number of public companies exposed to the region due to the pending private equity buyout of Harrah's ( HET), which owns several properties in the city. Among the stocks with the biggest ramifications is Trump Entertainment's ( TRMP), since its three casinos are all located in Atlantic City. Elsewhere, MGM Mirage ( MGM) and Boyd Gaming ( BYD) are exposed to the area with their jointly owned hip Borgata casino. Pinnacle ( PNK) intends to demolish and rebuild its Sands casino. By the time the new casino opens a few years from now, any smoking ban issue will most likely have been resolved.