Atlantic City is on the rebound, but is the economy strong enough to sustain a new casino c-owned by MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment?
Thursday MGM and Caesars met with Gov. Chris Christie in Trenton, NJ on Thursday. Afterwards they announced their preliminary plan to build a new casino together.
The formal details are still a couple of weeks away, but Christie and casino representatives spoke to the press about the development.
“We are going to be working with our friends at Caesars to find out how we can further move Atlantic City along,” MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO James Murren said. “It’s not going to be easy but we are up for the challenge.”
Currently MGM owns and operates Borgata Resort and Casino in Atlantic City. Caesars Entertainment operates three different New Jersey casinos, Caesars Palace, Bally’s, and Harrah’s. Both companies also operate online casino and online poker sites. In fact, MGM recently launched a second online casino brand, playMGM, to go along with its existing BorgataPoker and BorgataCasino online offerings.
Where will the new casino go?
With details still vague, the biggest speculation is where the companies want to put a new casino. The Boardwalk properties are pretty developed as is, but it is certainly the spot for a casino to be in town. Though, with TEN Casino still shuddered, the idea of experienced casino companies taking over the former site of Revel sounds tempting.
Another option is the land where Caesars and MGM both currently have properties. Harrah’s and Borgata are both off the Boardwalk. The casinos are close, but the two are not exactly walking distance apart. Richard Perniciaro, director of the Center for Regional and Business Research at Atlantic Cape Community College, spoke to the Press of Atlantic City about the area.
“There is more than enough land between the two to put a casino. There was a plan to put Circus Circus there.”
Can Atlantic City sustain this much development?
Atlantic City is not that far removed from four casinos closing in a single year. In 2014, Revel, Trump Plaza, Showboat, and the Atlantic Club all closed their doors. When the Trump Taj Mahal closed last fall, the total number of casinos in New Jersey fell to seven.
Right now casino revenues are on the mend. Hard Rock recently purchased the Taj Mahal from Tropicana owner Carl Icahn. There is also the supposed eventual opening of TEN. That brings the casino tally to nine.
Christie is optimistic about another new project for Atlantic City though.
“When [you] hear them come up here and talk about new properties to develop and new things to do in Atlantic City both individually and then MGM and Caesars jointly, it’s a huge change to what you heard when I first got into office,” Christie explained.
Christie is right the development in Atlantic City is a big change from a couple of years ago. The big difference though is that the development in town is more than just casinos. Other entertainment attractions are joining casinos on the Boardwalk, diversifying the Atlantic City economy so the town is not solely reliant on casinos to succeed.
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