Up to 30% drop in revenues likely

Atlantic City's gambling industry braces for dual threat from New York casinos, Meadowlands project

Reading time 2:12 min

The iconic gambling hub of Atlantic City finds itself under siege as the specter of new competition looms large from both within and beyond state lines. Amidst a backdrop of post-pandemic economic strain, the city's gaming industry faces a formidable challenge posed by prospective casinos in New York and the Meadowlands.

At the East Coast Gaming Congress held at the Hard Rock casino last week, industry stalwarts acknowledged the imminent risk posed by the issuance of three downstate New York casino licenses. Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small underscored the urgency of the situation, emphasizing the need for strategic collaboration.

“Now more than ever we know there’s a threat coming with New York City gaming coming,” Small said at the conference, as per Associated Press. “We understand the threat. We want to continue to work together to do things right to put Atlantic City into a prime position, no matter where these casinos are, that we diversify our options.”

Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, highlighted the potential impact of New York's burgeoning gaming landscape on Atlantic City's revenue streams. With projections suggesting a substantial decline of up to 30% in in-person gambling revenues, Allen urged preparedness among industry players, according to AP.

While expressing confidence in the resilience of Atlantic City's Hard Rock establishment, Allen cautioned against the repercussions of potential closures, evoking memories of the industry downturn between 2014 and 2016.

Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, echoed Allen's concerns, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to navigate the evolving landscape. “I share Jim’s concern about where the (Atlantic City) market is headed as we head into New York," Reeg stated. His company is vying for one of the three NY licenses, which is also the case of Hard Rock.

Soo Kim, chairman of Bally's Corporation, highlighted the intensified competition anticipated from neighboring states. With casinos proliferating across New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, Kim emphasized the need for leveraging New Jersey's robust internet gambling sector to offset anticipated losses.

Beyond the shadow cast by New York, Jeff Gural, proprietor of the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey, has shared ambitious plans for a casino venture at the racetrack's premises. While the proposal was put on the back burner when NJ voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum on expanding casino gambling beyond Atlantic City in 2016, Gural believes now might be the right time.

Gural said the 2016 referendum failed largely because it was written to permit more than one casino in northern New Jersey without specifying where. “People don’t want a casino in the neighborhood,” he said, as per AP. “If we make it clear it’s only at the Meadowlands, common sense tells you there will be a casino in the Meadowlands.”

Mark Giannantonio, president of Atlantic City's Resorts Casino and the Casino Association of New Jersey, acknowledged the gravity of the situation while expressing optimism about the city's prospects. Giannantonio outlined a roadmap for revitalizing Atlantic City at the conference, noting there's time for the city to prepare before New York opens its market.

He said Atlantic City has a “two-year window” to prepare for New York competition by cleaning itself up, improving its infrastructure, and assigning more police to the Boardwalk and other areas so visitors see a visible law enforcement presence. He also said Atlantic City needs to solve its problem with homelessness.

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