ATLANTIC CITY — Gaming experts predict casino revenue will be up considerably in July but warn that the long-term ability of the market to sustain nine properties is uncertain.
“I expect the numbers to be up,” said Steve Norton, an industry consultant and former Atlantic City casino executive. “But, I don’t see (anything) positive outside of July and August.”
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement will release July’s casino revenue data Tuesday afternoon. The data will contain the first full month of gaming revenue since Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino opened to the public on June 27, which brought the total number of operational properties in the resort to nine.
In July 2017, Atlantic City’s seven casinos reported $267.8 million. Last month, with a full month of legalized sports betting added to the casino’s bottom line, the industry reported revenue of $231.4 million.
Norton said he could see a scenario where July’s 2018 numbers reflect a 10 percent increase from the year prior because of the combination of the casino openings plus legalized sports betting and a mid-week holiday.
But, Norton said he could not see how Atlantic City will be able support two new casinos once the novelty factor wears off. The problem for Atlantic City casinos will be capturing repeat business, which Norton believes can only been done by opening up the resort to new markets, such as those in the Southeast and Southwest.
With closer casino gaming available to the resort’s core markets of Philadelphia and New York City, Atlantic City has to rethink how to attract newer, younger customers, Norton said.
“Atlantic City needs to change its method of business. Until we get some new markets, we’re going to get curiosity seekers and little more,” he said. “Atlantic City will be a weekend destination like it was before casino gaming.”
Wayne Schaffel, a former marketing executive at Bally’s, said that July casino revenue will be the “most important numbers we’ve seen in quite awhile.” Schaffel said he expects a revenue increase of anywhere from 6 to 8 percent, year over year but cautioned that if it’s not “at least 15 percent, somebody’s not going to make it.”