Casino Association President Calls Internet Gaming Bill a Possible ‘Watershed Moment’ for AC

March 6, 2013
Casino Association of New Jersey President Tony Rodio, who is also the president and CEO of Tropicana Casino & Resort, says the effects of Hurricane Sandy as well as increased competition from neighboring states and a poor economic climate, continue to challenge Atlantic City.

Atlantic City has seen declining revenue numbers from gambling and the president of the Casino Association of New Jersey says the city is facing several challenges. Tony Rodio, who is also president and CEO of Tropicana Casino & Resort, told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that along with increased competition from neighboring states and a difficult economy, Atlantic City is also still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Pennsylvania has also been facing some difficulties with its casino revenues from competition and the slow economy, which Rodio said Atlantic City also faces. He added that Atlantic City also has the added impact of Hurricane Sandy to deal with. “I think Atlantic City has had more than its fair share of difficult challenges to overcome,” he said.

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While Rodio said the effects from Hurricane Sandy diminish each month, he believes it will be a factor for at least the rest of the year. “Obviously October and November were dramatically impacted. December less so. And January and February I think even less so,” he said. “But make no mistake about it, there are just so many people in our feeder markets whose homes and vacation homes and businesses were disrupted by this mega storm and it’s gonna take probably years before everybody gets back to normal.”

Rodio sees the passage of the online gambling bill potentially as a “watershed moment” for Atlantic City. “Certainly, I think the Internet creates an opportunity to fuel growth and to turn Atlantic City’s fortunes around,” he said. “And instead of seeing the negative numbers each and every month, hopefully, when you add in the impact of Internet gaming I think we’re gonna start to see positive numbers once we are able to get online and offer that.”

He pointed out that over the past six years, Atlantic City has gone from a $5.3 billion market to a $3 billion with a 40 percent loss of business. Rodio also said when Internet gambling has been offered in European markets, it has spurred growth.

Atlantic City’s newest casino, Revel, has plans to file for bankruptcy less than a year after opening. Rodio said he has been surprised by the casino’s poor financial results but not that it had to declare bankruptcy. He said Revel’s situation mirrors problems that all of Atlantic City faces.

“It was obvious that given the level of revenues that they’re generating that they wouldn’t be able to handle the debt load that was on the property at opening. I think that this is certainly gonna help them, give them a lot more breathing room moving forward. I think that it is just systematic or emblematic of the problems confronting all of Atlantic City, what Revel’s going through,” Rodio said. “Nobody had a crystal ball when they started that construction and the opening coincides with the difficult times and challenges that the market has been facing with all the things that I talked about earlier.”