Casino Control Commission Chair Optimistic About Atlantic City’s Future

Atlantic City casinos won 10.7 percent less during the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period last year. Some say that puts them on track to have the worst year in decades. But Casino Control Commission Chair and CEO Matthew Levinson told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he believes there’s a very good chance Atlantic City will turn it around for the year.

“The numbers that we’re seeing coming in for July are big. Revel had its first profitable week since they opened. You talk to a lot of the non-gaming entities in town and they are talking about the best Fourth of July weekend they’ve had in the history of their business,” Levinson said. “I do believe you’ll start seeing some turnaround.”

While Revel has seen a profit, the organization laid off 75 managers. Levinson called that choice strictly a business decision by the new chief operating officer. “As the chairman and CEO of the commission, you never want to see anybody get laid off, but they took a look at what they had and made a business decision to lay off 75 upper management people, which like I said, is never a good thing,” Levinson said.

After entering and coming out of bankruptcy, many see Revel’s future as uncertain. But Levinson said he’s optimistic about the future. “I truly believe, and if anyone hasn’t seen Revel or any of the changes that have been made in Atlantic City, you’ll see that it’s a beautiful property, it’s a beautiful city and with what Revel has — all the entities and the retail and the restaurants and the pool and the day club and the night club — it is a whole round resort that people were looking for,” he said.

Revel was at first marketed as a resort and communications to the public didn’t emphasize the gambling aspect of it. Now executives have changed the strategy somewhat and are trying to get more gamblers to come through the doors. Levinson said the biggest question is if there are enough gamblers, especially considering the competition from surrounding states. Convenience gamblers will go to the closest location, but Levinson said a resort like Revel offers more.

“People are going to gamble in the most convenient place so when you have places like Revel where people can come and have a full weekend to do things and have a resort experience, that’s the change they’re looking for,” Levinson said.

Internet gambling is on its way to Atlantic City as well. Levinson said 10 casinos have publicly declared partnerships for internet gambling, but he believes all in Atlantic City have filed applications or are in talks for internet gambling agreements. He said he believes internet gambling will launch sometime in November.

One of the proposed partnerships is between PokerStars and Resorts Casino. Levinson explained that PokerStars will be applying for a vendor license, which is different from the casino license the company would have needed in the proposed deal with the Atlantic Club that was rejected. Levinson said the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will be in control of the investigation and regulatory process.

“I firmly believe that they’ll [PokerStars] go through everything they need to go through to make sure that they are a partner for Resorts,” Levinson said.