One bright bit of news for Atlantic City: Casino revenue on the rise
New figures released by the New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Division show the eight Atlantic City casinos took in $204.7 million during the month of February — up 14.7 percent from the same time last year.
The data also shows Internet gambling generated $14.7 million in profits for the casinos last month, an increase of 42 percent compared to February 2015.
“It’s very good news for Atlantic City and it demonstrates that the market there has stabilized with the closing of four casinos two years ago, so it’s going to be good for Atlantic City going forward,” said Roger Gros, the publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine.
That good news still comes against a bleak backdrop — with Atlantic City's government about to run out of money, property taxes up by more than half, and a budget deficit that can't be closed without state help. State officials are considering a controversial takeover of the city, hoping to avoid a bankruptcy. The state Senate approved a bill authorizing the takeover Monday, but the Assembly still hasn't scheduled a vote on the matter.
Gros stressed the increase in Internet gaming is important because “the more people you have playing online, the more revenue you’re going to get and the more people you’re going to be able to direct to Atlantic City, so I think it’s a positive move for Atlantic City.”
Six of the eight casinos posted monthly increases, led by the Borgata, which was up more than 29 percent from a year ago, to $62.8 million. The Trump Taj Majal, which was recently taken over by billionaire Carl Icahn, had a slight decline of less than 1 percent, to just over $12 million. Caesars was down 8.3 percent to $22.6 million.
He was quick to add however that things could quickly turn sour for AC if casino gambling is allowed to expand into North Jersey. Voters will decide in November whether to allow two casinos to be built in the northern part of the state.
“Atlantic City is establishing itself right now as a regional destination resort that doesn’t depend entirely on gambling,” Gros said. “However if casinos are allowed to open in North Jersey AC won’t have a chance to recreate itself as a resort town that offers more than gambling, it will completely destroy what is trying to be developed.”
Gros believes it’s important that Atlantic City be allowed to continue to develop itself as a no- gaming resort because the gaming market has become oversaturated.
“If Atlantic City is allowed more time to develop itself as a destination resort that offers more than gambling people will come to Atlantic City for trade shows, for conventions, they will also come for weekend getaways, to shop, to dine and for the entertainment,” he said. “If you’re going to open a casino in North Jersey it’s going to be detrimental to what you’re developing in Atlantic City. This is not a good strategy, the strategy should be to concentrate on gaming in Atlantic City, build up Atlantic City, make sure that people come there and continue to game there.”
He said people should realize that by expanding casino gambling into North Jersey, “this isn’t going to solve the situation in Atlantic City. It’s going to make it even worse.”