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State of Gaming in Atlantic City By: Frank Catania

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Despite this, some things may safely be said about the future of the gaming market in Atlantic City. One thing we know for certain is that Atlantic City will never return to its heyday, when gaming revenues there rivaled those of the Las Vegas strip. Competition from neighboring states is probably the greatest single factor that caused the downturn, resulting in the closing of several casinos.

Back when Atlantic City had an East-Coast monopoly on casino gambling, players from North Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania willingly made the hours-long trek to Atlantic City. Fleets of buses were parked in the center of the Atlantic City Expressway, where they waited to pick up passengers frequenting the various casinos. But when New York opened Yonkers and Aqueduct, and Pennsylvania opened its casinos much closer than Atlantic City, many players no longer needed to make the long trip to Atlantic City to enjoy legal gaming.

Internet gambling has helped the remaining Atlantic City casinos, even though under federal law such gambling is only allowed within New Jersey, with the servers being located in Atlantic City. After a slow start, Internet gaming has caught on and profits are being made. The latest innovation involves online players playing with live dealers located in Atlantic City. The casinos have also been offering online players stays at the casinos, thereby bringing in more people who otherwise would not have considered an Atlantic City casino visit.

Another positive for Atlantic City was the defeat last year of a statewide referendum that would have allowed casinos in North Jersey near or at the Meadowlands. This followed the defeat of another referendum in the 1970s, which would have authorized casinos in every part of New Jersey. Although the most recent referendum was defeated by a large margin, rumors persist that yet another try for North Jersey casinos will be made some time in the future.

The best chance for an Atlantic City resurgence may come this fall when the United States Supreme Court will take up the issue of whether to allow sports betting in New Jersey. If the Court rules in New Jersey’s favor, it would not only increase patronage at Atlantic City casinos but would also expand New Jersey’s Internet gaming by allowing sports betting online. Will this happen? Yogi’s words are again the best answer. Suffice it to say that many legal experts believe that the Supreme Court’s very acceptance of the sports betting case provides some hope for a ruling in favor of New Jersey.

Frank Catania

Law Offices Catania & Ehrlich,

P.C. Catania Gaming Consultants