Should There Be A Cap On The Number of Atlantic City Casinos?

Barbara Nathan Updated on November 21, 2019
atlantic city casinos

Every month we keep reading how Atlantic City and NJ online gambling revenue keeps breaking new records. In fact, in October, Atlantic City casinos reported increased gaming revenue for the 17th straight month.

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Yet according to a Nov. 14 article on www.PressofAtlanticCity.com, some NJ government officials would like to see the state place a limit on the total number of casinos allowed to operate in Atlantic City.

The casino market in the northeast might already be saturated

This opinion that the number of existing casinos is enough was highlighted in a Rutgers University report presented to the State Assembly on Thurs., Nov. 14. The report states that the casino market in the northeastern sector of the US is already saturated. Therefore, adding more in Atlantic City to the existing total of nine could be detrimental.

Jim Johnson, who played a pivotal role in Gov. Murphy’s efforts to get Atlantic City back on track and co-wrote the state’s transition report on Atlantic City, suggested instituting a cap on the number of casino licenses. He called the ongoing profitability of the nine existing Atlantic City casinos “a very serious concern.” Johnson made the following point as well:

“The trend lines suggest things are going to be down” as new casinos continue to open in neighboring states. The Atlantic City casino industry is vulnerable to challenges from within and competition from outside the state.”

A new casino is likely in South Philly next year

According to the Rutgers report, a new casino housing 2,000 slot machines expects to open in the South Philadelphia stadium district in 2020. It could divert up to $150 million in gambling revenue away from Atlantic City casinos.

Meanwhile, the Showboat in Atlantic City hopes to reopen a casino there, too

Bart Blatstein purchased the Showboat from Caesars Entertainment in 2016, two years after the hotel and casino closed. Then, later that same year, he reopened it as a stand-alone non-casino hotel. The Showboat has been operating as such ever since. But now Blatstein wants to reinstall a casino there. He has already submitted a proposal to the Casino Control Commission seeking permission.

A 2014 deed restriction preventing any new owner from offering casino gambling at the Showboat remains in effect. However, Blatstein told the commission that the deed restriction should not be an issue. That is because he wants to build the casino on an adjoining 123,000 square-foot lot, not on the Showboat property per se.

The commission asked Blatstein why he wanted to build a new casino. Blatstein’s replied that “the older-style casinos are no longer in vogue. Therefore, he envisions a “different” type of casino. It would be geared primarily toward a younger demographic and would prominently feature sports and esports. “Young people are very mobile and very experience-oriented, so it will be designed accordingly,” Blatstein stated.

The commission also asked Blatstein how he thought a 10th casino would impact the Atlantic City market. Blatstein’s answered as follows:

“It’s not about the number of casinos. It’s about variety.”

Besides building a new casino, Blatstein wants to convert the existing bus terminal at the Showboat into a “family entertainment center.” He received preliminary approval to proceed with the initial steps needed to open a casino. However, Blatstein is still a long way off from being granted a license.

Some legislators hope the Showboat Casino never opens

Despite the Commission’s preliminary approval, there is strong opposition to the prospect of having 10 Atlantic City casinos. Assemblyman and former casino executive Ralph Caputo called Showboat’s plan to open a new casino “a bad idea.” He said that while Atlantic City’s overall gambling revenue has increased since the opening of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and Ocean Casino Resort last year, the gross operating profit of the Atlantic City casinos has declined.

Assemblyman Ronald Dancer said  that“there are only so many gambling dollars to go around.” Therefore, he recommends considering a cap on casino licenses.

What do you think?

The Press of Atlantic City is conducting an online poll. So if you have an opinion one way on the other as to whether the state should place a cap on the number of Atlantic City casinos, you can weigh in and say “yes” or “no.” So far the vote is split 50-50.

Of course, here on NJOnlineCasino.com, we will continue to update you on all of the latest developments on this timely topic.

 

 

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