Betting, not Dancing on the Table – Playing on the Playa


Joan Mills  throws the dice at the craps table at Harrah’s Chester.

The latest volley fired  from the siege armies surrounding Atlantic City started in the middle of July with the introduction of table games.  This week the results of the first were released by Pennsylvania; in a little more than two weeks (the games opened in stages, three casinos at a time by region and the process took two weeks to complete) the nine operating casinos reported $17.5 million in table game revenue.  Not much information to establish any trends or make any predictions – just enough to know the games are there.

The only immediate impact statement came from West Virginia.  July was also West Virginia’s first month of table games, the state’s four operating casinos reported $11.2 million in table games revenue; in fourth place was Wheeling Island Casino with only $1.5 million in table game revenue – the reason for the lower that average results? Pittsburgh – Wheeling Island Casino and Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino compete for the same customer base – only it is Pittsburgh, which gives Rivers a decided advantage; Rivers had the most table game revenues in Pennsylvania with $3 million in its first couple of weeks.

We will get a taste of the table games in Pennsylvania impact on revenues in Atlantic City in the second week of September when New Jersey releases its August numbers;  August will be the first full month of games in Pennsylvania and the first full month of impact on Atlantic City.  But we can infer from Wheeling, West Virginia that the impact will be significant. New Jersey is entering its second major Pennsylvania phase in the Darwinian world of survival of the fittest that gaming on the east coast has become. We need only restate Darwin’s theory slightly and say it is a matter of survival of the closest to the food source; the farther away from the food source a competitor is, the stronger it needs to be just to survive  – dominating becomes almost impossible. Under this theory there are two options, move closer to the customers or build something so compelling that distance does not matter. The alternatives are either extinction or learning to live on a lot less food – neither sounds very pleasant.

Pennsylvania will not be the last shot fired against Atlantic City, it is just the latest; nor will Pennsylvania be safe – Ohio will begin firing on Pennsylvania next year.  New York, Massachusetts and Maryland are set to enter into the east coast fry next and of course each state with gaming will be thinking about expanding its offerings.  Some states, as New Jersey is doing, will see it as a matter of survival of the state’s economy and will fight very hard to keep their market share.

In the meantime, we are getting ready for the last big weekend of the year; time to make hay while the sun shines.  In Reno, the Burners are warming up, making the last minute adjustments to their trailers, costumes and attitudes for a weekend that is much like the last weekend of the year for students; a last fling at freedom before settling into the drudgery of life and long, dark, cold winter nights.

Burning Man 2009

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1 Response to “Betting, not Dancing on the Table – Playing on the Playa”


  1. 1 lynne burke August 28, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Atlantic City had a “Thunder over the Boardwalk” air show this week that drew hundreds of thousands to the area midweek. That should help the August figures some. It was a conservative show compared to the wild west burner crowd but I heard many of the performers were barely past the age of consent.
    Have a good day to you, I enjoy reading your blog.


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