In this week’s Las Vegas Business Press, I share my thoughts about the just-passed Atlantic City casino regulatory reform:
After suffering its fourth consecutive year of declining casino revenues, Atlantic City might finally be feeling the winds of reform. But will a planned regulatory overhaul be too little, too late to save the city’s slumping gaming industry?
First, a look at where Atlantic City is today. After about 20 years (1986-2006) of steady growth at an annual rate of more than 4 percent, the city’s casino revenues began to nosedive in 2007 — a year before Nevada’s revenues started to slip. Although Nevada is on pace for a slight gain in revenues for 2010, Atlantic City suffered another nearly double-digit decline.
The interesting thing is to look at Atlantic City’s historical growth. From 1978 to 1985, when the industry was adding casinos, there was incredible growth. After that, it was decent, just about outpacing inflation for the next twenty years. Table play, however, stagnated. Since 2007, both table and slot play have plunged.
So it’s a problem that goes beyond the recession and beyond the internal working of the state’s regulatory structure. By itself the reforms won’t save the city’s gaming industry, but they might be the first step in the right direction.