Atlantic Casinos Down in 2009 As Pennsylvania Competition Increases

On Monday, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission released figures showing revenue for Atlantic City’s 11 casinos was down 13.2 % in 2009 to $3.9 billion, the lowest levels seen since 1997.
“The numbers released today are no big surprise,” commented Steve Schwartz, a Gaming Analyst. “The casino industry as a whole has been suffering through the recession in the US, and those troubles were most visible in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.”
Originally, Atlantic City had only Las Vegas to compete against in the casino business, but recently has had to endure Pennsylvania slowly eating away at its profit margins, since it opened up its first slots parlor in November 2006. Last week’s news that Pennsylvania was about to pass a Gambling Bill legalizing table games like poker and blackjack at its casinos, will have added further to Atlantic City’s woes. Pennsylvania was forced into the move in order to help generate $250 million in revenue so as to balance its state budget, all representing a loss of potential profit for Atlantic City.
Don Marrandino, Eastern Division president for Harrah’s Entertainment Inc, commented: “We have to reinvent what what we are doing here to become more of a resort and entertainment destination..It’s not new news. We’ve talked about it for a long time. It’s going to happen sometime this summer or end of summer. Our goal is to do what we have been doing and reinvent our business model. It’s like when I was in Las Vegas and California came on with Indian gaming.”
Marrandino spirit of optimism for the future was somewhat echoed in Atlantic City’s December revenue figures which saw its casinos win $272 million, down a lesser than expected 9.8% compared to the year before.
“It was a tough year, a hell of a tough year,” said Marrandino. “I’m encouraged. We had an encouraging December.”

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