ore than 600 gaming-related professionals, including operators, manufacturers, regulators, attorneys, architects, analysts, and investors were in attendance.
And while much of the discussion centered on the current financial distress of its host city, the status of regulated online poker markets were also up for debate.
On Wednesday, Itai Pazner, senior vice president and head of B2C at 888holdings, was the opening keynote speaker at the conference’s iGaming Seminar, which was followed by a round table discussion that included representatives from the New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement (DGE), as well as Atlantic City casinos Borgata, Golden Nugget, and the Tropicana.
A subsequent debate covered which state was most likely to regulate online poker or casino gaming next, and included a talk from Jim Ryan, CEO of Pala Interactive.
“The US has the potential to be a $1.2 billion market by 2020,” Pazner told CardsChat after the event. “The keys to this happening are: the opening of new markets, such as New York, Pennsylvania, California, and Michigan to expand the player base, sharing poker liquidity between all open markets, and better enforcement towards illegal operators.”
Banking on the Future
While conference attendees hobnobbed in Atlantic City, some 70 miles away in Trenton, politicians were considering bills designed to rescue Atlantic City from bankruptcy.
New Jersey Senate President Jim Sweeney, who must have been whizzing up and down Route 206 on Thursday, gave a keynote speech that morning on the future of the New Jersey casino industry.
Despite the city’s problems, he said, the casino market was in a healthy state. Casino closures in 2014 have created an appropriately scaled down market, rather than an oversaturated one, and Sweeney believes this is reflected in an upturn in profits for AC casinos.
The message was that the boardwalk resort town is due for a rebound.
“We’ve had some very difficult times, but the best for Atlantic City is in front of us,” Sweeney promised.