Atlantic City hasn’t been doing so well for the past ten years but there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Numbers released early in January by New Jersey gambling regulators show that the casinos won $2.6 billion from gamblers in 2016 which is an increase of around 1.5 percent from the year before. 2006 was the last time that Atlantic City casinos saw a revenue increase in the wake of Pennsylvania casinos opening and drawing away Atlantic City customers. Atlantic City boasted 12 casinos that year, that number has dwindled to seven. Things are looking up though, out of those seven, only two casinos declared revenue declines during the year.
Lots of factors are involved in the recent positive financial findings from the casinos in Atlantic City, there is less direct competition to work against in the immediate vicinity. There is also a big boost of activity from New Jersey’s online gambling industry which is currently leading the nation (which shouldn’t be hard to do being one of the only states where its legal).
Good news in the wake of an excruciating three-year period where 11,000 jobs were lost and five casinos closed for good. One of the five that find themselves in the Atlantic City casino burial ground is President Trumps, The Trump Taj Mahal which was opened in 1990 and closed on October 10th 2016.
Matt Levinson, Chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission is convinced that better days are on the horizon “These are some strong numbers, especially with all the bad news about Atlantic City’s ‘demise,’” the Chairman said. “There’s a lot of good news here. We have some stronger casinos now, and internet gambling continues to increase. The hope is we’re entering a stable environment now.”
Tom Polhman is the general manager of the Golden Nugget, and he seems to think that the market has “right-sized itself to the point where we’re not over-saturated anymore. I’d like to think things had hit rock bottom and we’ll all get better from here.”
Revenue from online gambling in New Jersey has risen by more than 30 percent up to nearly $197 million. New Jersey is one of only three states in the country where state regulated Internet gambling is actually legal. Nevada and Delaware also share the same national perks, however neither of their markets can compete with that of New Jersey’s. It is also good news that despite competition from some very reputable and legally licensed Atlantic City online casinos that are based offshore and that are extremely successful, the state’s own Internet casino industry has taken off very nicely.
Despite only having two casinos see a revenue decline last year, in the month of December, the seven casinos that survived saw winnings of $208 million. That is an 8.6 percent increase in revenue over the previous December.
Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, David Schwartz, mentioned that there is still work to be done and that Atlantic City casinos really need to focus their efforts on the things outside of the gambling as well.
“At this point, it should be clear that relying on gaming revenues is not the way ahead,” the director stated. “There needs to be a focus on broader tourism and diversification into non-hospitality areas.” Whether or not this is sound advice will remain to be seen.