Have a seat.
Atlantic Club Casino Hotel is inviting its craps players to sit down and take a load off their feet in what may be the start of a new trend in the gambling industry.
Typically, craps players stand while rolling the dice, but Atlantic Club has become the first Atlantic City casino to provide permanent seating at the craps tables.
“I think it’s notable because it’s innovative thinking in the market. I’ve been throughout the country and I haven’t seen it at other craps tables,” said Cory H. Morowitz, a casino analyst and chairman of Morowitz Gaming Advisors LLC in Galloway Township. “It’s similar to when they started putting chairs at slot machines.”
Morowitz called the Atlantic Club “smart” for filling a perceived need for customers and creating a new attraction that will differentiate it from other casinos in town. However, he sees it more as a novelty, not something that will lead to the majority of craps tables in Atlantic City offering seating.
Michael Frawley, chief operating officer at the Atlantic Club, offered a simple explanation for the new seats.
“People were taking chairs from the blackjack tables and putting them at the craps tables. I said, ‘Why don’t we just give them some seats?’’’ he said, laughing. “If that’s what the customer wants, then that’s what the customer gets.”
Frawley acknowledged there is another reason for the new seats, one that should benefit the Atlantic Club financially.
“If I get them to play a little longer, then that’s to everyone’s advantage,” Frawley said of his casino’s chances of winning more money at the craps tables. “But our customers, by demonstrating it through their behavior, wanted it. It was kind of like, ‘Yeah, why don’t we do it?’”
Frawley stressed it is too early to say whether the new seats will provide a steady boost to Atlantic Club’s table games revenue. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if other casinos begin offering seats at their craps tables based on Atlantic Club’s model.
“If craps revenue skyrockets, I would say, yes, absolutely,” Frawley said. “It may be just a small percentage of revenue, but in total, it certainly helps.”
Figures compiled by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show that Atlantic Club’s craps revenue was up 16 percent, to $368,812, in August, the first month for the seats. Overall, Atlantic Club had $14.8 million in revenue from slot machines and table games in August.
On a recent afternoon, Atlantic Club gamblers were seated comfortably around one of the craps tables. Big, red dice and gambling chips were flying around the table amid cheers for winning rolls.
“Winner, 7,” announced stickman Hang Su as he collected the dice.
One craps player, Tarek Kamal, of Atlantic City, said the new seats are something that will likely draw him back to the Atlantic Club.
“It makes a real difference because you can roll better and it’s more relaxing,” Kamal said. “It adds to the action of the game. It’s a good way to attract people.”
Bill Generose, a craps player from Baltimore, said Atlantic Club officials finally recognized the need for permanent seats when gamblers kept borrowing chairs from the blackjack tables.
“We like having a chair, but we always had to take one from the other tables,” Generose said. “They frowned on that. They used to not let you do that.”
The 75-year-old Generose believes the new seats will be highly popular among senior citizens. Frawley said younger gamblers also seem to prefer having a place to sit down.
“It’s very nice,” Generose said. “Our wives are slot players and I know they like to sit down, too.”
Representatives of Atlantic City’s 11 other casinos said they don’t have permanent seating at their craps tables, but noted they are happy to accommodate customers if they ask for chairs.
“I would be surprised if there is a casino that doesn’t allow a guest to use a chair if requested,” said Tom Pohlman, general manager of Golden Nugget Atlantic City.
Atlantic Club has a total of 35 seats at its four craps tables. Actually, they are stools featuring thick cushions. The new seats are part of Atlantic Club’s remodeled gambling floor, the centerpiece of the property’s transformation this year into a lower-cost casino catering primarily to local customers.
Formerly known as the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, the property renamed itself the Atlantic Club in March as part of a new marketing strategy aimed at revitalizing the struggling casino. Free parking, low-stakes wagering and discount prices fit in with Atlantic Club’s value-oriented theme.
August showed some signs of a revival. Atlantic Club was the industry’s biggest gainer in gambling revenue last month, posting a 25 percent increase. However, for the year, Atlantic Club’s gambling revenue is down nearly 15 percent, compared to the industry’s overall decline rate of 4 percent.
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