Taj players wanted

{child_byline}NICHOLAS HUBA

Staff Writer

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ATLANTIC CITY — From free slot dollars to honoring Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort comps, casinos in the resort are putting on a full court press to lure customers from the shuttered property.

The closing of the Taj Mahal has left more than $180 million in gaming revenue a year, about 7 percent of the city’s total gaming revenue, up for grabs among remaining casinos, particularly those that have properties on the Boardwalk, according to a report by Moody’s Investor Services.

“Ensuring the Atlantic City market thrives during difficult times is extremely important, as we simply cannot sit back and allow more customers to leave the market,” said Joe Lupo, senior vice president of operations at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. “Therefore, taking a more aggressive approach with promotions that speak to the regional market offering amenities that our Atlantic City competitive set can differentiate itself from the surrounding jurisdictions remains vital.”

The property, once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by former owner Donald J. Trump, closed Monday after management accused striking Unite Here Local 54 members of preventing a “path to profitability.” The Taj Mahal is the city’s fifth casino to close since 2014.

In August, as soon as Taj Mahal management announced it would be closing the property, signs from other casinos started popping up all over the Atlantic City Expressway, urging Taj Mahal customers to come to their properties.

Tropicana Atlantic City, whose management team ran the Trump Taj Mahal, is honoring all comps and other offers related to the loyalty program at the closed property. Under loyalty programs, customers are able to accumulate points through gaming activities and purchases that can be redeemed in the future, subject to certain limitations and the terms of the programs.

“We are in a unique situation that we are the only casino offering to match all Taj Mahal offers,’” said Eric Fiocco, chief marketing officer for Tropicana Entertainment. “These are customers that are up for grabs. If you look at the offers around town, we are the most aggressive.”

The Caesars Entertainment Total Rewards program — at Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort and Bally’s Atlantic City — is offering to match customers’ Taj Mahal rewards program tier. Resorts Casino Hotel is offering $25 free slot play and comp dollar multipliers on the first day.

The idea of trying to entice customers to switch loyalty programs is nothing new in the industry, said Robert Ambrose, an instructor at the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management at Drexel University.

“Program point transfers, tier status, free rooms and gifts; it is all there to lure in the new customer,” Ambrose said. “With the Taj closed, most likely some customers will try different properties until they find that same level of experience, value and service. It may take a lure of a free night or special promotion to bring the customer to the door.”

While these offers could possibly provide a short-term influx of revenue, Moody’s said it does not expect the closing of the Taj Mahal to have a positive long-term impact on the city’s gaming industry.

“But this windfall will likely end up being short-lived at best,” the Moody’s report said. “While the number of casinos is shrinking in Atlantic City, we expect that overall gaming market revenues will eventually shrink as neighboring states continue to pick away at the city’s gaming revenue.”

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Contact: 609-272-7046 NHuba@pressofac.com Twitter @acpresshuba

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Contact: 609-272-7046 NHuba@pressofac.com Twitter @acpresshuba

Started working in newsrooms when I was 17 years old. Spent 15 years working for Gannett New Jersey before coming to The Press of Atlantic City in April 2015.

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