New casino opening where Revel stood — but will another close?
ATLANTIC CITY — Even when last year's gaming revenue of the now-shuttered Trump Taj Mahal is included, the city's overall gambling haul already topped 2016's numbers by the end of November.
When looking at only the remaining seven casinos, total gaming revenue shot up by 8 percent in the first 11 months of 2017, compared to the same period last year — continuing an upward trend for the seaside resort.
But how long can the good news last if two new gaming halls start wheeling and dealing nearby in the next four to six months?
It was announced Monday that the former Revel property — which lasted just two years after its 2012 opening — had been sold to Colorado developer Bruce Deifik for $200 million. It's expected the newly named Ocean Resort Casino will open by summer, around the same time Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is set to reopen at the site of the former Taj Mahal.
"I they're just going to cannibalize what's already out there," said Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine. "I think the industry had right-sized itself in the last couple years. The casinos were making money, people's jobs were safe."
Gros noted the Hard Rock brand has the potential to attract new customers to the Atlantic City market, but the reformed Revel lacks that appeal...for now.
It's Gros' belief that the introduction of two casinos in 2018 will result in one casino closure in the near future.
"I think Bally's would pretty much be the hands-down favorite to go first," Gros said. "They're struggling as it is."
Bally's — located next door to Caesars — was the only Atlantic City casino to see a year-to-date decline in gaming revenue through November of last year, according to numbers from the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Its November-only gaming revenue fell nearly 5 percent, compared to November 2016.
In an Associated Press report on the casino transaction, Deifik insisted the former Revel opened at a bad time and did not cater to the right customer base. The short-lived casino steered its marketing toward high-end clientele and players, rather than routine day-trippers.
"We are incredibly excited that we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire this tremendous property at a time when Atlantic City is seeing great economic strides," the AP quoted him saying.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.