Posted 1/11/11 : Over four years, the USA's second largest gambling mecca's fortunes have declined by a third.
The official numbers for 2010 confirm the perceptions over the past twelve months that Atlantic City – America's second biggest gambling centre – is still in decline.
Year-end figures released Monday show Atlantic City casinos took in $3.6 billion in 2010, a year-on-year drop of 9.6 percent, and down from $5.2 billion in 2006. The poor results marked a fourth year of decline in which the region has lost almost a third of its business.
Since the decline began in 2007, the southwards-heading stats have been a bitter pill to swallow after a history of 28 consecutive years of soaring casino revenues.
Associated Press took a positive approach, noting that moves in the New Jersey legislature (see previous InfoPowa reports) bring the hope that 2011 might be the year in which the bleeding finally stops. The initiatives include a state-run tourism district in the casino zone and less regulation for the 11 gambling halls.
"This is the year I actually look at the glass as being half-full," said Bob Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owns three casinos here
He told AP that he expected the first nine months of 2011 to continue to show revenue declines, but said he believes that Atlantic City will finally show some revenue growth in the fourth quarter.
Don Marrandino, eastern regional president of Caesars Entertainment, said: "Retail business has grown dramatically. More people are paying for hotel rooms and spas. Restaurant concepts continue to work their way into the market.
"It’s been a banner year for entertainment," he added. "Boardwalk Hall was one of the top grossing mid-sized halls in the country. Boxing matches do well here. We had a tennis match that was the highest-attended in the state."
Despite the optimism, the statistics painted a weak picture, with gambling revenue down at every casino in the city in 2010, ranging from 4.2 percent at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which took in $300.4 million, to 19 percent at Resorts Atlantic City, which took in $155.2 million. Slot revenue was down 9 percent to $2.48 billion, while table games revenue fell 10.9 percent to $1.09 billion.
In the month of December, casino revenues fell 12.8 percent to $237.2 million, impacted by competition from other centres and a massive snowstorm between Christmas and New Year’s that wiped out much of the most profitable week each December.
The revival plans of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie revolve around the creation of a state-run tourism district encompassing the 11 casinos and the Boardwalk. It will function as a city-within-a-city in charge of its own police protection, cleanliness, traffic and development. Regulations will be simplified to make the environment more efficient and cost-effective for developers and operators, and a newly created Commission will monitor progress