Casino revenue figures were released yesterday that showed a drop in operating profit of 45 percent. New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the decline is partly because of one-time benefits that occurred last year. While he agrees Atlantic City still faces challenges, he said he’s optimistic about the future, including internet gambling.
Rebuck explained that in the second quarter of 2012, there were many one-time benefits that couldn’t be repeated in the second quarter of 2013. “The good news is that eight of the properties still showed profits in the second quarter,” he said, adding that July, which isn’t reported yet, had the highest occupancy rates for hotels that he’s seen — 95 percent.
Competition and the sluggish economy continue to challenge the resorts and casinos in Atlantic City, according to Rebuck. “All that we can do is continue to be creative in ways to overcome those hurdles which this administration is doing as a state and with the support of the legislature to bring back the rebirth of the Atlantic City area as well as the region down there with the economic development needs they have. We have to keep plugging away. We’re not gonna throw in the towel.”
Internet gambling has created buzz for Atlantic City. Rebuck said the goal is to have an aggressive approach and offer internet gaming in the state in 2013. The target date is Nov. 23, which is nine months after Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill.
“The division has to notify the industry 45 days before that go-live date. And that’s circled on my calendar because if we cannot go live then, we have to then go to the Casino Control Commission and ask for an extension. But as I sit here today, Mike, we are aggressively and feverishly working for that go-live date to be a reality,” Rebuck said. “The industry knows it and the pressure’s on them to get it going and be ready.”
Steve Wynn has expressed interest in returning to Atlantic City in some capacity. While Rebuck said he hasn’t spoken to Wynn directly, he has spoken with his representatives who have said they’re interested in entering the internet gaming world in Atlantic City. In addition, Rebuck said more than 70 companies are looking at coming into the state to engage in internet gaming.
“As we all know, the internet world is a flat one. But we are putting very aggressive standards on them to relocate or locate their assets into the state. So we’re very optimistic about the economic development opportunities for Atlantic City, Atlantic County as well as the state. And we’re gonna continue pursuing that,” Rebuck said.