Friday 11/05/2010 by jackl


Atlantic City casino revenues are down again this month ...

Gaming revenues at Atlantic City casinos dropped again ...

Atlantic City casinos took another hit ...

For years, headlines like these - driven by monthly casino-revenue figures - have been unrelenting: The amount of gambling money Atlantic City casinos take in has continued to slide.

But the problem is, too few people have been looking at all the numbers. The focus on the monthly casino take has overshadowed a bright spot that Atlantic City needs to focus on.

Yes, fewer people are coming to Atlantic City, but they are spending more money on nongaming activities such as hotel rooms, meals and entertainment, according to a study by Spectrum Gaming of Linwood. The amount of money lost gambling in Atlantic City fell 23 percent since 2007, but spending on hotel rooms is up 21 percent and food and drink is up 6 percent, Spectrum found.

Many casinos have been decreasing comps. Yet people are still spending - and spending more, even in these tough times - to stay, dine and be entertained in Atlantic City.

What does that mean? First, it means the resort is clearly on the right track with the kinds of events it hosted last weekend. The wildly popular Phish concerts completely sold out 14,100 seats for three nights at Boardwalk Hall. That's 42,300 tickets. Many of those fans stayed in the casino hotels, ate at restaurants, shopped at stores and visited nightclubs. The same weekend, Harrah's Entertainment's "Out in A.C." event reached out to the lucrative gay tourism market, while Bally's Atlantic City hosted more traditional Atlantic City entertainment Saturday night - a boxing match.

These are the kinds of weekends that need to happen more often. Sure, some of the people who packed the city gambled. But that's not what brought them to Atlantic City. That's not what will keep them coming.

And Atlantic City's future growth area probably won't be gambling.

"We're still the second-biggest gaming market in the country, but when you lose a billion dollars of revenue that's not coming back, you have to change your business model," said Don Marrandino, Harrah's Eastern Division president.

Editorial in the Press of Atlantic City, "Noncasino revenue / A.C.'s growth area" (11/4/10)


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