Atlantic City investments needed to fend off increasing New York competition, casino executives say

Investments in Atlantic City are a “must” as New York casinos loom, experts at a New Jersey gaming panel agreed last week. Gaming executives believe stepping up the city’s game might be the most effective way to address fears of profits lost to emerging gambling venues in the Big Apple, with NY eyeing up to three casino licenses for the downtown area.

A panel of executives hosted by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber at Stockton University’s City Campus suggested that investments might be an effective way to fend off competition. Concerns linger that, with Atlantic City casino revenues flat and costs rising from inflation, gambling stemming from NY could further cut into their profits.

“We’ve always been a destination city,” said Michael Monty, general manager of Bally’s Atlantic City, as reported by The Press of Atlantic City. “I don’t think that changes with the construction of New York casinos. I don’t think that changes with the construction of Pennsylvania casinos and casinos throughout the other states that have been legalized in the past few decades.”

Panelists said the construction of three new casinos in New York could cost New Jersey 20% to 30% of its casino revenue, a development that could possibly return the destination to the days of casino closures. Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen said he envisioned lost revenue from the New York market having an impact on the city, potentially leading to at least one city casino closing. Other analysts also said a casino closure could be a possibility. 

Atlantic City receives 20, 30-plus percent of its revenue from upstate New Jersey and downstate New York, and there’s no doubt it is going to have an impact on this particular market,” Allen told The Associated Press. Hard Rock owns one of nine casinos in Atlantic City and is among the New York bidders.

Hard Rock's Jim Allen

However, Gregg Klein, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City suggested that both states sharing players could create a pipeline for players on the East Coast. Harrah’s parent company, Caesars Entertainment, has bid on building a new casino in New York’s Times Square.

“To me, that’s the benefit from it is that we’re finding and discovering new players and, hopefully, bringing them down here to Atlantic City,” Klein said, as per The Press of Atlantic City. More players in AC would be welcomed news for the city’s gaming industry, as it has yet to fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the panelists said.

Several aspects of the city would need to be improved, Atlantic City casino executives believe. These include bus ridership to and from the resorts, investments to improve the city’s image, upgrading the Boardwalk and improving transportation, including more flights to Atlantic City International Airport.

“We need some investment,” said Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel. “The community itself will benefit, and the city will flourish for decades to come.”