Revel officially opens today, although its grand “premiere” doesn’t begin until Memorial Day weekend. The first new casino in Atlantic City since Borgata opened in 2003, the $2.4 billion property carries with it high hopes, and questions, for the future of gaming in the city.


Well, not just gaming. The new casino offers entertainment, dining and retail amenities that rival the best Las Vegas has to offer, with the goal of bringing visitors back to the city, those who have been siphoned off by new gambling venues in Pennsylvania and New York.

As they say, newer is usually better, and individual properties can excel while others stagnate. Certainly Borgata has weathered the economic downturn and the competition better than any other Atlantic City property – gaming win there has declined by only 11.8 percent since citywide win peaked in 2006. That compares quite favorably to the 30, 40 and even 50 percent drops in gaming win seen by some of the city’s other properties. Only Harrah’s managed similar performance, with win declining by 13.6 percent from 2006 to 2011; Borgata and Harrah’s are the city’s two largest casinos in terms of gaming win. All others saw win drop by at least 25 percent. Total win in Atlantic City topped out at $5.2 billion in 2006, with $3.3 billion reported in 2011.

So, what impact will Revel have? Will it bring people back to the struggling city and spread the wealth? Or will it provide enough stimulus to only help itself and the largest and most diversified properties, leaving the smaller casinos dying in its wake? Not even the experts can provide a definitive answer. Time will tell.

The economy certainly continues to play a role in how the gaming industry is performing, and the regional competition factor has played itself out to some degree, at least for the time being. Atlantic City saw signs of life with a 4.2 percent revenue gain in December, its best performance in years, but January and February regressed again with declines of 7.2 and 5.9 percent, respectively. In calendar 2011, total gaming win fell by 6.9 percent, which compares favorably to declines of 9.6 percent in 2010, 13.2 percent in 2009 and 7.6 percent in 2008.


The following table summaries the performance of individual casinos since 2006. Total casino win is in millions; columns may not add to totals due to rounding.

 200620072008200920102011% Change,
2006-2011
Atlantic Club/ACH$330.1$304.9$249.1$192.0$163.7$143.0-56.7%
Bally's677.3641.4568.1474.3426.0378.3-44.1
Borgata739.3751.0738.8695.3647.7651.8-11.8
Caesars555.2583.3543.8460.2408.7404.4-27.2
Golden Nugget/Marina257.2241.9203.6162.6147.4125.2-51.3
Harrah's509.0519.5544.7488.5453.5439.8-13.6
Resorts282.9278.7233.2191.7154.5154.2-45.5
Sands148.0closed     
Showboat429.5407.4362.2316.7285.0258.3-39.9
Tropicana459.2403.7356.7313.6300.4277.2-39.6
Trump Plaza300.9280.3262.3202.3175.1136.7-54.6
Trump Taj Mahal529.2508.6482.4446.0402.4348.8-34.1
        
Total$5,217.7$4,920.8$4,545.0$3,943.2$3,564.3$3,317.7-36.4%