Atlantic City’s Chance To Recover [AUDIO]
If Atlantic City wants to regain some losses and latch on to the momentum it needs to become the powerhouse it used to be, the time to act is now. The explosion of nearby competition has peaked for the time being, giving the struggling resort town some time to breathe and make a new name for itself.
Dozens of casinos have opened in neighboring states since the middle of the last decade, biting off a massive chunk of Atlantic City's gambling revenue. Month by month, Atlantic City was becoming less of a mecca and more of a joke to tourists and news reports. However, the market has calmed down at the start of 2013. Pennsylvania and New York have plans for additional gaming facilities a few years down the road, but for now, New Jersey's gaming destination has no "grand openings" to worry about.
"Atlantic City has an opportunity now to really establish itself as a regional destination resort," said Roger Gros with Global Gaming Business Magazine. "They have to really get on that right away to make sure that when these competitors do come on, (Atlantic City) is established as a real exciting resort on the East Coast."
Gros added that additional openings, like the ones planned in the years ahead, probably won't affect Atlantic City as much as they used to. The gaming market has become so saturated in the Northeast that when a casino opens in Philadelphia, it should hurt other casinos in that state, not New Jersey.
While it is crucial for Atlantic City to accent the non-gaming amenities it can offer visitors, Gros suggested the city spend some marketing cash on its "real draw," the casinos.
"The critical mass of so many casinos close together is an important factor," he explained. "All the other casinos...you go to one and you have to drive 50 miles or so to get to the next one."
In Atlantic City, if a gamer's luck goes bad at one casino, the next casino may be next door or just a few hundred feet away.
Gros also suggested the city focus not only on the visitors within driving distance, but the folks who live in areas of the country with no gaming options for hundreds of miles.
"I think there needs to be an effort to increase the flights into the Atlantic City airport. It's very underserved right now," Gros said.
Jeff Guaracino with the Atlantic City Alliance, a group devoted to marketing the city, indicated the airport was interested in increasing its flight load. The airport's primary commercial carrier is Spirit.
Revenue at Atlantic City's 12 casinos dropped eight percent in 2012, compared to the year prior. It was the sixth consecutive annual decline.