Atlantic City Casinos At 40: Where things stand in the eyes of an expert

Forty years ago Saturday, casinos arrived in Atlantic City.

David Madden
May 25, 2018 - 4:42 pm
Tropicana Casino In Atlantic City

Credit: Andrew Kramer

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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (KYW Newsradio) -- Forty years ago Saturday, casinos arrived in Atlantic City, making the town at the time the only place to legally gamble in the U.S. outside of Nevada.
    
Lots has changed, of course, since then.  And a local expert considers the city's past, and future, when it comes to gaming.
    
Rummy Pandit heads up the Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University. Starting with Resorts in 1978, there were eventually a dozen places to play. He suggests they had a "phenomenal run" as the industry peaked at $5.2 billion in revenue a dozen years ago. Then the bottom fell out.
    
"You had competition coming up in Connecticut and Delaware and in Pennsylvania," he told KYW Newsradio. "Everywhere you turned gaming was being introduced."
    
Today, seven casinos and half the revenue. But business is better mostly because the town is learning to diversify, to offer more than just casinos. And Pandit says the numbers suggest it is a plan that's working.
    
"Back many moons ago, we had revenues where non-gaming revenue was probably 5% of the total revenues," he added. "Today, non-gaming revenues have come up to almost about 30% of total revenues."
    
By contrast, the city of Las Vegas has turned things around so that non-gaming represents about 70% of the industry's revenue base.
    
But gaming in Atlantic City is getting a rebirth of sorts as the industry celebrates this anniversary.
    
Two new casinos, Hard Rock and Ocean, will open next month where the Taj Mahal and Revel once stood. The town has also seen a growing interest in online gambling within the state of New Jersey.
    
And there will certainly be added business when the state sets up sports betting regulations to be followed by casinos ad racetracks, something likely to start next month. 
    
Then again, Delaware and Pennsylvania will  do likewise. In fact, Delaware already allows parlay wagers on pro football, which could give them a chance to be the first outside Nevada to offer full blown sports betting. New Jersey politicians are, like Delaware's, racing to get the early advantage.