N.J. casino deregulation may not save A.C.

New Jersey’s latest attempt to help its struggling casino industry will take effect Wednesday.  That’s when the state will eliminate some staffing requirements for table games supervisors, including pit bosses.

New Jersey has seen 30 months of steadily declining casino revenues.  The latest regulatory changes follow a major overhaul of casino regulations earlier this year.

The staffing requirement changes are meant to allow casinos to use fewer supervisors.  That could save them millions.  But some say deregulation has been tried in the past when casinos were struggling with little long term success. 

Temple University History Professor Bryant Simon wrote a book on Atlantic City.

“Casinos weren’t open 24 hours to start,” Simon said.  “Well, when profits lagged, they were open 24 hours.  In Atlantic City, the casinos had to dedicate more space to non-gaming activities.  Well, when casino profits lagged, that regulation went.  So here we are at a very dramatic kind of fall in the casino business in New Jersey.  And what’s the response?  Yet again to give the casinos better chances of making money.”

Simon says he’s skeptical these changes will turn around Atlantic City’s fortunes.

“It will continue to yield short time revenue windfalls to the state,” said Simon.  “So maybe casino revenues pick up and the state gets a little bit more money, but it’s not going to kind of fundamentally address the problems that Atlantic City’s suffering from, that South Jersey’s suffering and that the state’s suffering, and that is: we need more good jobs.”

Simon says the state’s reliance on casino revenues means officials don’t have to rely on more politically treacherous measures like tax increases.

Earlier this month, the state instituted regulations that allow casinos to increase slots odds in their favor and keep more of the revenue.

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