Israel Posner, Director of the Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, tells Managing Editor Mike Schneider that Atlantic City is currently in the early stages of its transformation from a casino town to an entertainment mecca.
Posner says the continuing slide in casino revenue hides rather than reveal Atlantic City’s economic trajectory which he thinks is moving upward when considering the steady growth in non-gaming revenue for the last dozen years.
“It doesn’t matter what end of the cash register the money comes in from, whether its casino, food and beverage, the hotel revenue or entertainment. What matters is that the revenue comes in and that it’s more than expenses … The first quarter was up was up 17 percent and that’s gross operating profit and that represents all the profit that is made by these companies and that is a considerable change.”
Since its grand opening which included a show-stopping concert by Beyonce, all eyes have been on Revel. The hotly anticipated resort is expected to give Borgata which reigned supreme as the city’s luxury casino hotel a run for its money. Looking back at Borgata’s opening almost a decade ago, Posner says Borgata raised the high stakes bar for the industry beyond Atlantic City.
“[There was] nothing on the east of the Mississippi really. So what Borgata did was raise the bar and created a much much better casino, brought in top shelf restaurants and created a tremendous product … What Revel is trying to do is something that has never been done in Atlantic City and that is … attracting a customer that has not come to Atlantic City and that is a leisure customer that was really essentially ignored by the industry.”
The measure of Revel’s success, says Posner, will be its ability to attract a range of customers that include gamblers, conventioners and most especially — leisure travelers looking for a 2-3 day getaway with a focus on dining and spa activities in a boardwalk environment.