Revel's future

anything but secure

Regarding the May 22 story, "Revel exits bankruptcy under new owners":

Frankly, it is difficult to envision any combination of cost cutting and revenue initiatives that will enable Revel to reverse its fortunes and generate operating profits any time soon. That must occur before the company can meet even the much diminished debt obligations created by the 82 percent lender stake in the debt-for-equity exchange bankruptcy agreement.

South Jersey Transportation Authority data and monthly financial reports suggest Atlantic City's casino industry has expanded beyond the ability of the market to sustain it. True, there have been recent increases in nongaming revenue, but not nearly enough to offset the huge decreases in gaming win.

Revel can survive only by increasing its share of the local market. Its competitors will not roll over to make that easy.

Three smaller casinos - Resorts, Golden Nugget, and Atlantic Club - have recently made investments aimed at increasing their share of gaming and nongaming revenue. Larger casino competitors continue aggressively to mine their player databases and implement new marketing strategies.

Atlantic City's next great hope is that Internet gaming will create new customers. Perhaps, but Revel does not seem poised to gain advantage over its local competitors in this market, which is still about eight months away. By that time, Revel may have exhausted the $75 million loan for operating expenses that was part of the Chapter 11 deal.

The most likely outcome of this is Chapter 22 bankruptcy. Certainly that would be an unhappy outcome for Revel's original lenders. But it could be a major improvement in Atlantic City's overall fortunes. It would set up a low-cost takeover of Revel's assets by a major industry leader with worldwide player databases and a proven track record operating successful destination resorts. Currently, Revel has neither.

No one benefits from a floundering Revel. But if a new, experienced operator can turn that magnificent building into a successful operation that truly attracts a new customer base, the city may finally make the comeback local folks keep predicting.

ANTHONY MARINO

Egg Harbor Township

Atlantic City needs

•ew markets to survive

I wonder how many Atlantic City stakeholders noticed an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Memorial Day, which asked whether the city's casinos can be saved. The short answer, from several experts, is that the casino supply will be "moderated." In other words, survival of the fittest.

It's sad that Atlantic City's decision-makers are still stuck on trying to attract more visitors within driving distance and on trying to rebrand the resort as family-friendly with nongaming attractions.

As the article points out rather graphically, by most measures the city's fortunes peaked in 2006, the year the first of 11 casinos opened in Pennsylvania. Since then, gross gaming revenue has dropped $1.9 billion from $5 billion to $3.1 billion; annual visitors have fallen by 7.2 million from 34.9 million to 27.7 million, and casino employment is down 9,700 jobs from 44,500 to 34,800.

Currently, 11 casinos - with two more on the way - operate in Pennsylvania. New York State has opened nine racetrack casinos and five Native American casinos. In Delaware, there are three casinos, with two more on the way. In Maryland you can find three additional casinos, with two more coming soon.

The handwriting is on the wall. Old regional-based thinking will no longer Do AC well. The story says, "When (Gov. Chris) Christie announced a state takeover of the city's tourism district two summers ago, he said the resort must evolve into a year-round, overnight destination to survive." The only way for this to happen is for Atlantic City to target its considerable PR budget toward the booming international gaming market.

Come on, people. We have a grossly underutilized international airport. We have a globally recognized Boardwalk, beach and ocean. We have Fifth Avenue, Broadway, Independence Hall, and the White House within a day's trip. With the right partnerships, we could have international junkets coming here by the hundreds. All it takes is a refocusing of the advertising budget, a new strategic vision and rehabilitation of Atlantic City's inferiority complex. Let's do It.

DR. JONATHAN L. FOX

Northfield

Singer Popper's weight

has no place in listing

Regarding the May 23 At The Shore "Casino Scene" listings:

I was very excited when I saw Blues Traveler was coming to Atlantic City, but I was disheartened after reading the section. The description said the group is "led by the obese, but immensely talented frontman John Popper."

What does Popper's physical appearance have to do with his talent? This makes it seem as if obesity would take away from his talent, when in fact the two aren't related. On a side note, remember to fact check; Popper had gastric bypass surgery years ago.

KATE PALUMBO

Egg Harbor Township