Will Christie be too preoccupied with his presidential campaign to care about Atlantic City?

070413_Christie_600
To their credit, Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney have been very vocal against any plans to expand legalized gambling elsewhere in the State, such as the Meadowlands in North Jersey. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

On the 10th day of every month at approximately 2pm, the monthly gross revenue reports are issued by the Division of Gaming Enforcement which detail how each of the city’s twelve casino performed in various specific areas, but many observers skip over the minutia and go right to the meat and potatoes: 

The Total Casino Win.

For example, with the publishing of yesterday’s report, we know that Borgata won $50,828,572.00 in November 2013 as opposed to $42,742,937.00 in November of 2012, an increase of 18.9%.

Conversely, we know the city’s lowest performing casino, Trump Plaza, won $4,765,220.00 this November, as opposed to $4,894,771.00 last November, a decrease of 2.6%. 

Mind you, Atlantic City’s November 2012 numbers are coming on the heels of Super Storm Sandy, but studying the numbers from month to month and year to year can tell you a lot about how well a specific casino is performing. 

Take Revel for example, the city’s $2.4 billion mega casino that has underperformed month after month since opening in April 2012.   

Last November, Revel ranked 11th out of 12 with a Total Casino Win of $6,229,142.00, whereas this November, Revel finished 7th out of 12 with a Total Casino Win of $14,568,121.00, an increase of 133.9%.

Revel’s Table Game Win ranked 5th in the city last month, up 182.1% from November of last year when it ranked 9th

So what does it all mean?

Atlantic City’s year to date Total Casino Win is down 6.1% from 2012 to 2013 and in all likelihood will represent another losing year for Atlantic City, its seventh consecutive losing year, but who’s counting?

When you look back in search of Atlantic City’s heyday with respect to gaming revenue, you don’t have to look back to the days of high-profile casino operators like Steve Wynn or Donald Trump.

In fact, Atlantic City’s all-time peak years in regard to gaming revenue or Total Casino Win occurred in 2005 and 2006, when the city’s casinos brought in $5.018 and $5.217 billion dollars. 

At the time, Atlantic City casinos had 26 consecutive years of posting higher revenue from the year before, in other words, Atlantic City was 26-0 and following 2005 and 2006, the city was 28-0. 

The highs of 2005 and 2006 have given way to six years of declining revenue and in all likelihood, 2013 will make it seven. 

28-7, not bad overall, but if your following the trend, it’s downright scary, almost apocalyptic.

In other words, barring a monumental and at this point an unforeseen turnaround, Atlantic City’s best days are likely a thing of the past and not a part of its future. 

While jurisdictional competition from neighboring states like Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware have put a dent in Atlantic City’s bottom line, intrastate competition could have a far more dire effect on Atlantic City’s financial stability. 

To their credit, Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney have been very vocal against any plans to expand legalized gambling elsewhere in the State, such as the Meadowlands in North Jersey. 

Christie, during his now infamous July 2010 boardwalk speech, which some like soon to be former Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford categorized as a thinly veiled State takeover scheme, boldly stated that he was committed to giving Atlantic City all of the resources it needed to succeed and would not entertain any discussion of intrastate gambling for at least five years. 

That was almost three and half years ago and thus far, by virtually everyone’s measuring stick, Atlantic City has failed. 

What remains to be seen is what Christie’s position on Atlantic City will be in July of 2015, the expiration date of his five year plan, when he will be undoubtedly more pre-occupied with his 2016 presidential campaign and not a struggling seaside resort town who can’t seem to get out of its own way.