Is Atlantic City in more trouble than most people think?
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to do everything in his power to protect Atlantic City. As most New Jersey casino goers know, the place could use a massive makeover. While it’s the closest thing to Vegas for the Eastern seaboard, most people would rather go to, well, Vegas.
There’s a big appetite for resort casinos in the state, but the Governor has agreed to not expand gambling in New Jersey until 2016. And even then, he’ll only consider expanding it and it’s not really guaranteed.
But he might need to break his promise and consider something sooner than later. Across the border in New York, competition is looming large. A total of 22 casino companies have handed off license application fees of $1 million for the rights to bid for a New York casino license (that doesn’t even guarantee they’ll get to build one).
While many in New Jersey have argued that the casinos won’t compete with Atlantic City for business, that might not be true. Two of the proposed locations are pretty familiar to those who travel to and from New Jersey.
The Sterling Forest Resort, if built, would be smack down on Route 17A in Tuxedo, where the annual Renaissance Fair is held. And if Caesars has its way, it will build a property at Woodbury Common shopping center, which is near Route 17 on the New York State Thruway.
Now, while these properties would still be hours away from Atlantic City, they would be off major thoroughfares en route to Atlantic City. For New Yorkers, what’s the motivation to travel farther down the freeway to play at a sub-par casino?
Christie finds himself in a predicament. If he expands casinos beyond Atlantic City, he’ll be able to plug the New York gambling drain and hopefully keep money flowing into the New Jersey properties. But that could also cause the New Jersey casino properties to suffer.
On the flip side, not expanding casinos in New Jersey means that players closer to Atlantic City will continue to play, but those close to the border (not to mention New Yorkers) will choose the new resort casinos in New York State.
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. While Atlantic City casinos might come out behind, casino players will have tons more choices of where they want to play. And that’s definitely a good thing.