Will sports betting and web gaming help bring back NJ destination resorts?
The Boardwalk can’t catch a break.
For the past two decades, Atlantic City’s casino industry has been under siege from gaming competition in neighboring states.
The Southern New Jersey seaside resort, where saltwater taffy was created in the late 1800s, which thumbed its nose at Prohibition in the 1920s and was the inspiration for the board game Monopoly, once owned the monopoly for casinos in the East.
But starting in the mid-1990s, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and New York legalized gaming. The competition, combined with the recession, took away business and caused Atlantic City’s annual casino revenues to fall more than 41 percent between 2006 and 2012.
A comprehensive reform package pushed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2011 that created the Atlantic City Tourism District and focused new attention on boosting the city’s 12 hotel-casinos — nine on the famous Boardwalk and three in the Marina district — was just beginning to take hold in October.
Then Superstorm Sandy washed ashore.
Says balance needed to ensure integrity, business investment
As chief regulator for New Jersey’s struggling casino industry, Matthew Levinson has an interesting balancing act.
The Casino Control Commission must ensure the market is free of corruption. At the same time, turning away potential investment could be viewed as counterproductive.
Levinson, 33, was appointed to a five-year term as the commission’s seventh chairman in August by Gov. Chris Christie.
In less than eight months on the job, he has experienced the gaming market’s financial ebbs and flows, the weeklong closure of casinos in October because of Superstorm Sandy, the emergence of online gaming giant PokerStars as buyer of a struggling Boardwalk casino, and the application of MGM Resorts International to regain its gaming license that it surrendered in 2010 after a stipulated agreement with the Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Also, New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation allowing Atlantic City casinos to offer Internet gaming, and Christie has pushed the casinos to allow sports wagering, a move being fought in federal court.
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Atlantic City can’t catch a break.
The gaming market has seemingly been covered by dark clouds for much of the past six years. Last week’s announcement that Revel, the Boardwalk’s newest resort, was filing for bankruptcy less than a year after opening, didn’t shock anyone.
Bad news has become expected.
Atlantic City gaming revenues have declined more than 40 percent over the last six years. The Boardwalk suffered through labor strife, competition from resorts in neighboring states, casino closures, stalled investments and the recession.
When Hurricane Sandy washed ashore in October, shutting down portions of the Boardwalk for as long as to a week, several analysts quietly wondered whether the freakish storm was a warning sign from above.
Fleeces and hoodies brought to New Jersey for relief efforts
The cold weather is bearing down on the East Coast, and sadly there are still thousands of residents who are without power or even warm homes due to the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. This past weekend, PPA Grassroots Director Drew Lesofski hand delivered hundreds of fleeces, hoodies, and other winter-weather clothing to communities in need. The items were made available thanks to a very generous donation of clothing from PokerStars to help those in need.
Upon receiving the boxes of fleeces and hoodies from PokerStars, PPA connected with local charities in New Jersey to distribute these items. Drew met with hundreds of families who stood in line at a local American Legion Hall in Keansburg, NJ to distribute the PokerStars items and other donated goods. “Warm clothing is a cherished item for those affected by the storm and the community was so grateful for the donations. I am proud that we could help, even in a small way, those who have literally been left with nothing due to Sandy’s devastation,” said Drew.