AC had a bad 2009

The Atlantic City gaming numbers are in, and 2009 was definitely not pretty. From the AC Press:

Casino revenue plunged for the third straight year in 2009, falling below $4 billion for the first time since 1997 as the soft economy and competition from neighboring slot parlors continue to erode the Atlantic City market.

Year-end figures released today by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission show that revenue from slot machines and table games declined 9.8 percent in December and fell 13.2 percent for the entire year for total winnings of $3.9 billion.

Analysts predict there will be no recovery in 2010 because of the persistently weak economy and even fiercer competition from the Pennsylvania and Delaware slot parlors. Both states will be adding Atlantic City-style table games this year in a major expansion of their gambling industry.

Atlantic City has been on the decline since peaking at $5.22 billion in revenue in 2006. Revenue slipped 5.7 percent to $4.92 billion in 2007 and was down 7.6 percent to $4.55 billion in 2008.

In contrast to Atlantic City, Pennsylvanias gaming market posted a 28.1 percent jump in December slot revenue, thanks to the grand opening of the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem and the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh in 2009.

via Atlatnic City casino revenue off 13%, 3rd straight year of decline. – : Latest News.

You can check the Atlantic City casino stats page to verify that, indeed, Atlantic City has retreated to 1997 revenue levels.

Let me put that in a different way. The last time casinos made this much (or little), Bally’s Wild Wild West was the latest and greatest thing on the Boardwalk. Twelve years of growth–factoring in everything from the opening of the Borgata to expansions at the Taj, Tropicana, and Harrah’s–has been wiped out.

I’ve always been opposed to talk of a “death spiral” in my hometown, but it should be clear at this stage that the city needs some bold, dramatic action to turn things around.

If you want to read more about Atlantic City, check out Part II of my brief history of the Tropicana in the month’s Casino Connection. Enjoy.

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