Capping a wave of casino closures on the Atlantic City boardwalk is Revel, the $2.4 billion, 47-story hotel tower that debuted in April 2012. The September shutdown of the starkly designed gambling palace hits the New Jersey economy hard, contributing to closures that take away about one third of AC’s gaming space.
What changed to turn AC’s multi-decade run as a gaming mecca into a parade of glittering vacancies? Some point to Pennsylvania, whose recent expansions to gaming laws are keeping its players in its own state to play at standalone casinos such as Mount Airy, Sands, Rivers and SugarHouse.
Others suggest that the younger gaming customer tends to be a poker player, and Revel does not offer poker. As the NYT writes:
Internet gambling, which became legal in New Jersey last year, so far has not been a significant threat to the casinos. After initially forecasting that online betting could increase industry revenue by $1.2 billion in the first year, state officials sharply revised down forecasts for both revenue and expected tax receipts, which were scaled back to $34 million from $180 million.
“It hasn’t come close to what their projections were,” said Anthony S. Graziano Sr., executive director in the Coastal New Jersey office of Integra Realty Resources, a national real estate valuation firm.
Competition from out of state, especially in Pennsylvania, has been the main threat in Atlantic City, overshadowing any issues from the recession or Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Customers in eastern Pennsylvania now have a choice of gambling halls in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Chester or Valley Forge, removing the need to drive an hour or more out of state.