As expected, the November gaming numbers for Atlantic City’s 11 casinos were bad. Really bad.
Gaming revenues for November fell 28% compared to November of last year. Even single casino was down and, for the year, the gaming take for 2012 is on pace to be 8 percent lower than 2011.
David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas says don’t expect those numbers to get much better anytime soon, and not because many people wrongly think Atlantic City Boardwalk’s got washed away.
“That might play a roll, but their regular customers are still getting marketing offers. They know that there are still casinos there,” he said.
The problem is more likely that Atlantic City casinos still draw most of their customers from the N.J., Pa. and N.Y. region, which were all hit by Sandy – from water damage to floods to power outages. “More people have a lot more to worry about this November than last November,” he said.
Schwartz expects a Sandy-related effect to drag on gaming numbers for another six to 12 months. He says this strengthens the point that Atlantic City needs to become more than a regional convenience gambling hub because, “people who would be coming frankly don’t have discretionary income right now, or they’ve got too much on their plate with all the reconstruction.”
This has been the battle cry of Atlantic City’s marketing arm for years. If there’s any time to ramp up those efforts, it’s now, courtesy of Sandy.
Jen A. Miller writes the Down the Shore with Jen blog for NewsWorks.org. Jen is author of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May, which is now in its second edition.