According to the American Gaming Association’s annual report, Atlantic City casinos saw a 7 percent revenue drop during the first quarter while other casinos across the country improved. While that might not seem like good news, Assemblyman John Amodeo, a member of the Assembly Regulatory Committee, believes Atlantic City is on the road to recovery. He spoke with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider about the city’s progress and its future.
Amodeo said Gov. Chris Christie and members of the legislature are working hard to turn Atlantic City around, amid growing competition and the economic downturn. “I see these numbers as a good sign and the road to recovery in Atlantic City,” Amodeo said. “The gaming table number, we’re down 10.6 percent I believe, but a year ago we did not have the 200 gaming tables in Pennsylvania. So it’s an issue we’re working through.”
Amodeo said although the first quarter saw a decline in casino revenue, there were 1.7 million passengers on the Atlantic City Expressway in March 2012 and air ridership at Atlantic City International Airport rose 8 percent that same month.
He explained that the monopoly on casinos that used to exist no longer does. “Vegas and Atlantic City were the two major hubs for gaming in the country. We were always number two to Vegas. Now that there’s 22 or 24 other jurisdictions, gaming’s not in the forefront of Atlantic City,” Amodeo said. “Atlantic City is a city that has much more to offer.”
Amodeo said Atlantic City will be able to prosper even when casino revenue declines. “You have to look at what we see as a vision for Atlantic City as not being a gaming destination any more but being a total resort destination,” he said. He added that the numbers don’t show the whole story because Revel had a soft opening in April and hasn’t been added to the data yet.
Amodeo is hopeful for the summer and the future. “Memorial Day is in the near future. That’s basically when our tourism season opens up. I look for good things. Atlantic City’s well and alive and what we have to offer is there and that’s what people are coming for,” he said. “Gaming is a second entity now in Atlantic City because of the competition elsewhere.”