New Jersey still lags in gambling recovery

New Jersey still lags in gambling recovery

The latest numbers from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, show that gaming revenues in Atlantic City dipped 13.2 percent during the 2009 calendar year compared to 2008. Nevertheless, land casinos in the area generated $3.9 billion.

The Commission revealed that declines in revenues from slot and table games were causes for concern; slots revenues declined 13.1 percent in 2009 to $2.72 billion, while table game revenue fell 13.5 percent to $1.22 billion.

New Jersey gaming licensees paid $295.3 million in taxes to the state, or 8 percent of taxable gross revenue. Casinos invested a further $49.3 million as part of a state requirement that operators reinvest 1.25 percent of taxable gross revenues in projects approved by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

The Commission's chairperson, Linda Kassekert, said in a statement this week: "Casinos continued to suffer in 2009. The weak national economy, growing competition across our borders, and the partial ban on smoking in casinos combined to depress gaming revenues.

She was referring to gambling expansion in Pennsylvania and Delaware which are inducing additional competitive pressures, whilst in New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak recently introduced a bill to allow intrastate internet gambling as a response.

Kassekert remains optimistic that Atlantic City can continue to attract visitors to its casinos: "Atlantic City has a lot to offer visitors in addition to gambling. When the economy improves and people have more money to spend on entertainment, Atlantic City will draw more and more people interested in visiting our shops, enjoying a concert, dining in our fine restaurants, and relaxing on our beach," she opined.

However, December numbers were not encouraging, in stark contrast to improvements noted in Nevada for the first time in almost two years. Atlantic City casino revenues for the last month of 2009 declined year-on-year by 9.8 percent to $272.1 million. It was a bad end to a worse year, as every casino operation reported shrinking revenues by up to 20 percent in some cases. The Borgata was the exception to the rule - still down, but only by 5.9 percent to $695.3 million.

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