Non-Gambling Options Important for AC’s Future [AUDIO]
Even with a slight uptick this November because of Superstorm Sandy last year, gambling revenues in Atlantic City continue to decline, putting the focus more on non-gaming options for visitors.
With that in mind, New Jersey's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) plans to offer even more retail, entertainment and hotel options starting this summer.
CRDA director Jon Palmieri said those options will compliment gaming activities. Some of the major projects on the horizon include a Bass Pro Shops location, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, a Reading Market-style farmers' market with local goods, and development of the Steel Pier, including the construction of observation similar to the London Eye.
"Our responsibility here is to take advantage of our location on the ocean, with the boardwalk as a calling card," said Palmieri. "We've got 20,000 hotel rooms, plus [Atlantic City] Convention Center business is going to be a very important driver."
The Convention Center held seven trade shows in the month of November, including the League of Municipalities, using 11,485 room nights. Delegate spending was approximately $27.2 million, according to CRDA.
Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, said with increases to gambling revenue far out of sight and online gambling only expected to hurt revenue figures, non-gaming amenities are an important focus.
"[There's been] increases in visitation in terms of spending on things outside of the casino," said Gros. "Room rates have started to inch up."
While gambling will always be an important part of Atlantic City's character, Gros believes that with so many other attractions nearby, non-gaming options might account for 40 percent of revenue in the city.
"That's a lot less non-gaming revenue than Las Vegas, which is more the opposite of that and in some cases 30 percent gaming, 70 percent non-gaming," said Gros, "but Atlantic City has always been about gaming, and I think a lot of people will come here for that."