Will Atlantic City Lose When Pennsylvania Welcomes Online/Sports Betting?
Competition from neighboring states, mainly Pennsylvania, was a major factor in the decline of the Atlantic City casino industry, including the closure of five gaming halls between 2014 and 2016.
But the seaside resort, many would say, has been making a rebound — knowing not to expect $5 billion in annual gaming revenue like it would in its heyday, and adjusting its offerings to please more than only gamblers.
Making things much easier were the introduction of online gambling in 2013, and the launch of sports betting in June of this year.
In September, which welcomed the start of the National Football League's 2018 season, nearly $184 million was bet on sports in the Garden State, up from about $96 million one month prior. Over the first nine months of 2018, revenue brought in through internet wagers was up nearly 18 percent over the same span last year.
But how long can Atlantic City keep this up? Pennsylvania is knocking again, with plans to roll out sports wagering in the weeks ahead, and internet gambling next year.
This time around, New Jersey's gambling mecca is expected to hold its own.
"I do not believe you will see what had transpired with the brick-and-mortar business years ago," said Bob Ambrose, a gaming and hospitality consultant who teaches casino and hotel management at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The AC casino market had a chance to "learn from its mistakes," Ambrose said, and it's presenting a better product — gaming-wise and hospitality-wise — to the consumer, compared to neighboring states and compared to years ago.
"Today it's a different animal. It's a different model," Ambrose said.
Pennsylvania's entrance into the internet and sports markets may pluck some players who would've otherwise taken the trip east, he said, but those areas are more of a bonus for Atlantic City than a crutch.
An overlap of gambling licenses may limit any potential blow as well. MGM, which owns Borgata, and Golden Nugget, for example, are among the entities seeking internet gambling licenses in the Keystone State.