Leaping into a Virtual Year

Atlantic City received some great news in March; revenues from the casinos in the boardwalk city were up 14.7% in February.  A leap year and good weather made this February a much better month for the casinos than it was in 2015. But it is not likely to become a trend, unless Atlantic City can figure out a way to add one day to each month and schedule perpetual sunny, stormless skies.

Atlantic City casinos brought in $204 million last month – 14.7 percent more than in February 2015. Reuben Kramer, 3-14-16

The February increase in revenue was a very rare event for the city.  Atlantic City casino revenues have been on a long downhill slide.  That downward trend is not due to weather or the number of days in the month.  It started in 2007 when casinos first opened in Pennsylvania and got worse as other states in the region added casino gambling.  Each new casino exacerbated A. C.’s problems and the situation is not going to improve.  In fact, it is going to deteriorate.  New York is set to get three new casinos within the next 24 months, Massachusetts is also anticipating three more, Maryland is adding one and Connecticut is likely to add another.  And, eventually there will be another casino in Philadelphia.

As if all of that was not enough to break Atlantic City’s back, in November, voters in New Jersey might approve casinos outside of Atlantic City.  And, by November, Atlantic City’s finances will be controlled by the state, not the city.  The plummeting casino revenues and casino taxes have driven the city to the edge of bankruptcy.  It is indeed a dark cloud that hangs over the Boardwalk.  However, in the midst of all the negative events surrounding A. C., there is a positive trend, a ray of hope.

Buried in the numbers for February are the internet gambling results. Internet gambling in New Jersey – and all of the activity is tied to an existing casino – was up 42 percent to $14.8 million; that is only 7 percent of the total gaming revenues. But internet game revenue is increasing both as an absolute amount and a percentage of total gaming revenue in Atlantic City.

Internet gambling did particularly well, bringing in $14.7 million for the month, an increase of nearly 42 percent compared with February 2015. Wayne Parry, Associated Press, 3-14-16

Internet gambling in New Jersey could be an indication of an eventual paradigm shift.  Changing technology could reframe gaming in New Jersey completely.  All casinos are looking for ways to attract Millennials and most observers believe that will include more use of the internet.  Although three states have authorized internet gaming it has not taken the industry by storm.  But the growth of internet gaming revenues in New Jersey may indicate its possibilities.

Two other stories from Atlantic City added to that theme for me.  First a senate committee voted to legalize fantasy sports.  Committee approval is a long way from legalization, but it does show that some lawmakers are working to make gaming more viable in Atlantic City.  As long as fantasy sports are tied to the existing casinos as is the case with internet gambling, it could be very good for the casinos in the long term.

A bill was approved by the state senate committee on Monday which will allow the state Department of Law and Public Safety to regulate daily fantasy sports in New Jersey. The bill will allow the state department to issue permits to casino licenses and businesses that wish to conduct daily fantasy sports. Maxwell Reil, Press of Atlantic City, 3-14-16

The other story is a little different, but still routed in technology and aimed at a new audience for the casinos.  In early March, the Taj Mahal Resort held a Nintendo tournament.  According to the promoters, the tournament drew the biggest names in the game and enthusiastic fans.  All video games have found a home online. It is the place where players from around the world meet to compete.  The competition is intense and at the higher levels attracts large audiences of followers.  Because of the vast number of players and world-wide interest it generates, video gaming has the potential to stage real-time events.  A recent tournament in Germany drew over 500 enthusiastic fans.  AC did not have the same dynamics, but it was a good start.

Those are noms de guerre of some of the world’s top video gamers, who will be duking it out at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort this weekend for a Nintendo tournament organized by two brothers bent on making Atlantic City a mecca for competitive gaming, or “electronic sports.” Reuben Kramer, Press of Atlantic City, 3-14-16

Currently, video game competitions are not big money makers, but they certainly have a huge potential to generate gaming revenues.  There are multiple ways to monetize the activity; players could wager against each other, spectators could wager on the competitors and a “book” could create odds and prop bets to increase the wagering and handle the action.  And importantly, the gamblers do not have to be physically in the casino.  To illustrate the power of “not-in-the-casino” potential, consider the following example from Las Vegas.  Station Casinos is licensed to offer sports wagering remotely to anyone within the state of Nevada.  Since 2010 the sports betting handle at Stations has grown by 53 percent.

The growing influence of mobile sports wagering has led to a nearly 53 percent increase in Nevada’s sports betting handle since 2010. Smartphone and tablet computer applications allow gamblers to place bets from the comfort of their home or anywhere else within the state. Last year, the company remodeled and enhanced areas of the sports book at Red Rock Resort, including adding three ultra-high-definition LED displays to the facility’s video wall in time for NFL and college football season. Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3-14-16

In an imaginary future world of gambling, New Jersey could legalize both fantasy sports and video gaming as casino gambling options.  In that world, neither the gamblers nor the contest would have to be in a casino.  The contest could be anywhere in the world and the gamblers any place within in the state.  Okay, it is a stretch.  But Atlantic City is going to need a stretch to remain viable.  The city and eventually casinos everywhere are going to need something more than today’s offerings.  Depending on a Leap Year is not a good strategy, but leaping into a virtual year might work.



2 Responses to “Leaping into a Virtual Year”

  1. 1 lakepeekskillblog April 7, 2016 at 4:09 am

    Does the internet gambling accept credit card use?

  2. 2 Ken Adams April 7, 2016 at 7:17 am

    it does where the activity is legal

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