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Expert Predictions Come True: Wave of Casino Closings in Atlantic City

Jul 10, 2014

Expert Predictions Come True: Wave of Casino Closings in Atlantic City

Over the past few years, economists and analysts have warned about the “casino saturation” in the north-eastern part of the US. Now authorities and business owners are witnessing the disaster and there’s nothing they can do about it.

With growing competition from other states in the area, New Jersey’s Atlantic City is in a desperate financial situation. There is no way out this time. The only thing left to do is to accept the defeat and close the resort’s unprofitable casinos, one by one. Otherwise, authorities are considering rebranding the city and turning it into a destination that offers visitors more than just casino games.

Let’s take a closer look at what recent gambling news have to say on the subject.

Philly.com: With casinos closing, Atlantic City considers future

About 2,100 employees received 60-day notices the next day, after Caesars Entertainment announced it was closing its Mardi Gras-themed casino, Showboat, by the end of this summer. The bad news comes only a few months after the Atlantic Club also went out of business and Revel is also likely to shutter if its owner doesn’t find a new buyer.

“Atlantic City is undergoing a massive economic transition,” Mayor Don Guardian said at a news conference Friday held at the site where a new nongaming attraction is being built. “We know it is painful for those who are losing their casino jobs.”

Liza Cartmell, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Atlantic City Alliance, told reporters: “Recent developments in Atlantic City are part of the larger picture of excess gaming across the United States that’s leading to painful economic decisions.”

There are simply too many casinos in the country, industry experts say. Over the past ten years, 26 gambling venues opened in the Northeast corridor alone; a dozen of them are located in Pennsylvania and a new one is scheduled to open in Baltimore later in August. The development of the casino industry in the area has put an end to the monopoly enjoyed by Atlantic City for nearly three decades.

ABC News: Atlantic City Casino Shutdown Needed, Analysts Say

The number of casinos in Atlantic City could go down from 12 to 9 by Labor Day, as analysts say the resort has too many gambling venues.

“We know that the oversupply of gaming product is a regional issue, as we’re seeing the effects of the pressure all around Atlantic City,” says Israel Posner, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton College.

Atlantic City is going through a rough patch and Mayor Don Guardian believes a makeover will be difficult, but necessary. Officials say the time has come for the city transform itself and become a multi-faceted destination, where casino games are just one of the many entertainment options available.

“Although it is sad today, it’s part of the transition that Atlantic City needs to have,” the mayor told reporters. “There is pain as we go through this transition, but it’s critical for Atlantic City to realize we are no longer the monopoly of gaming on the East Coast. If you build more and more casinos and don’t increase the amount of people coming to them, you’re sharing that wealth. We’re just going through a very difficult time.”

Boston Globe: Atlantic City sees our folly of casinos

The US Supreme Court struck down New Jersey’s attempt to legalize sports betting and Atlantic City casinos are going out of business, despite Governor Chris Christie pumping $260 million of his constituents’ money into one of the local casinos.

While Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are considered interlopers who steal customers from the New Jersey resort, the story published in the Boston Globe says all players are “suckers, willing to part with their money for the house, because the house always wins.”

Locals worry about Massachusetts casinos stealing even more business. The market is already oversaturated, they say, and Atlantic City is already competing with Vegas, Connecticut and Philadelphia.

The Guardian: Atlantic City shutters casinos as north-east US builds gambling market

It’s becoming more and more obvious that there are too many casinos in Atlantic City. Competition has caused the Atlantic Club to close its doors, Revel says it will do the same unless owners find a new buyer and Caesars Entertainment is giving up on the Showboat.

During his five years in office, Mayor Don Guardian saw a quarter of the city’s casinos close. He believes this is a sign that Atlantic City needs a makeover, from a popular gambling resort to a multi-faceted destination instead.

Over the past seven years, casino revenue in the city has plunged from $5.2 billion to almost half that amount, reaching just $2.86 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania surpassed Atlantic City as the country’s second largest casino market after Nevada. And with New Jersey’s new laws allowing locals to play casino games and online poker tournaments, profits soared even more.

All this sounds like bad news, but Fitch Ratings has a different opinion, claiming that “the closure makes financial sense for Caesars and is a positive for the oversupplied Atlantic City market.” According to the expert, Caesars will regain lost customers at its other resorts in the area.

CityLab: Atlantic City Is Becoming the Detroit of Casino Culture

At the beginning of the year, when the media argued that Atlantic City could be going the way of Detroit – which suffered a big shock after being forced to shut down gambling venues – State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Chris Christie both promised they would not let the city “become Detroit”. Now, the resort is facing a wave of casino closings.

Former casino workers are furious over losing their jobs and Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, told reporters that Caesars’ decision to shut down the Showboat was “a criminal act”, as the venue was still making profit.

To help former employees find new positions within the company, Caesars promised to give them preference for existing roles at the company’s other three Atlantic City venues.

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The Recession’s still going – US gambling revenues still down!

May 10, 2010
Gambling Tune

Just when we thought it was safe to get back in the water, research shows that the dreaded recession is still pressing down on Americans. Overall, national revenue through gambling dropped over 5%, but progress in some states even during the recession gives a nation hope.

USA Today: Casino gamblers tightened purse strings in recession

Americans have been rolling the dice less as the economy soured. According to the American Gaming Association, revenue from casino gambling fell 5.5% overall last year, with the take falling $1.8 billion from the $32.5 billion of revenue in 2008. Revenue fell in 8 of the 12 states that have casino gambling.

Interestingly, consumers spent more last year gambling at casinos than they did on candy or movie tickets. Spending on lotto tickets hasn’t dropped much. According to La Fleur’s 2010 World Lottery Almanac, states had lottery revenues of $53.1 billion in fiscal year 2009, compared with $53.4 billion in fiscal year 2008.

Six of 12 states with racetrack casinos reported revenue increases, and six reported decreases. Maine had the largest increase, 17.2%, and Iowa took the biggest hit, a 6.7% decline.

Colorado, Indiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania were the only states that posted an increase in casino gambling revenue, according to the association. Pennsylvania saw revenue rise because two casinos opened last year. Kansas, brought in nearly $2 million after its first casino opened

New gaming laws increased some revenue. Colorado relaxed bet limits and increased hours and types of games. Missouri removed loss limits. Casinos in 13 states employed about 328,000 workers last year, compared with about 357,000 in 2008. Casinos contributed $5.6 billion in tax revenue to state and local governments last year, a 1.6% drop from 2008.

Stateline: Gambling slowdown reduces states’ take

The economic slowdown that’s battered the bottom line of states has also reduced their take of gambling taxes, according to a report released Thursday. The American Gaming Association said gaming revenues dropped 5.5 percent across the country last year. State revenues from taxes on gaming dropped 1.6 percent.

New Jersey took the biggest hit, as gaming tax revenues dropped 18.6% between 2008 and 2009. Nevada and Mississippi were also hard-hit, losing 10.4% and 9.4%, respectively.

Four of the 13 states that allow commercial casinos actually did better last year than in the previous year. The report credits voter initiatives in 2008 that legalized more gambling for boosting revenues in both Colorado and Missouri.

Colorado raised its bet limit from $5 to $100; and state gaming taxes increased by 2.6%. Missouri did away with a rule that limited gamblers’ losses to $500 in a two-hour period; its taxes went up 5.9 percent. By far the biggest revenue winner, though, was Pennsylvania, which opened two new casinos in 2009. Its gaming revenues jumped by 21.6%.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: State’s casino numbers buck national trend

Pennsylvania, where new casinos are still opening and legalized slot play is still a novelty, added more than 3,200 gambling-related jobs and yielded big revenue increases in 2009, a year in which casino revenues declined nationally by more than 5%.

Statistics were presented in the American Gaming Association’s annual industry report, which was released Thursday. Pennsylvania’s revenues increased by almost 22%, aided by the 2009 opening of Rivers Casino on the North Shore and the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem.

Nationally, casinos took in $30.74 billion in 2009, down nearly $1.8 billion from 2008. It’s the 2nd year of declining casino revenues nationally, and as a result, the number of people employed in the industry dropped by almost 30,000, or 8.1%.

Nevada’s casinos saw 2009 revenues decline by 10.4% from 2008 numbers, while Pennsylvania’s neighbors in Atlantic City, N.J., performed even worse, with a 13.3% decline. Western Pennsylvania is still in the running for 2 more casinos – one, a proposed racetrack casino in Lawrence County; the other, a smaller “resort” casino at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County.

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$1 Million in Illegal Gambling Cash Found Buried in Pennsylvania Yard

Apr 02, 2010
Dig

Joe Mastronardo, the son-in-law of the late mayor of Philadelphia has been arrested together with his brother John and charged with conspiracy, gambling and running a corrupt organization, due to an illegal bookkeeping operation that they ran. Over $1 million was dug up by law enforcement in Mastronardo’s lawn in a recent raid.

Fox News: Over $1 Million Found In PVC Pipes

More than $1 million cash was recently found buried in the yard of Joe Mastronardo, son-in-law of late Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo. County investigators and the FBI spent all Wednesday digging up Mastronardo’s the backyard in Abington looking for the hidden cash. Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman and the FBI moved to freeze bank accounts in Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Mastronardo and his brother were arrested in a federal bookmaking scheme in 2006. At that point, the brothers agreed to forfeit about $2.7 million dollars as part of a plea agreement.

John and Joseph Mastronardo are being held on $1 million bail each. They’ve been charged with conspiracy, gambling and running a corrupt organization. Preliminary hearings and bail hearings are set for next week.

ABC News: Pa. brothers charged with running gambling ring

This is the second time in 4 years that Montgomery County authorities have arrested the Mastronardo brothers for running a sports betting operation.

Court documents indicate that most of the evidence that lead to the arrests was gathered on wiretaps, including a conversation in which Joseph Mastronardo discussed NCAA March Madness tournament. Looking for cash taken in from sports bets, and they found more than a million dollars.

In Mastronado’s backyard and shrubbery, 4 PVC pipe tubes full of cash and capped at both ends were unearthed. Investigators executed over 46 search warrants yesterday at other homes owned by the Mastronardos. They also seized bank accounts in Florida, Tennessee and offshore.

This is the fourth time the Mastronardo brothers have been arrested on gambling charges since 1983. They forfeited close to $3-million and received probation 4 years ago. Now, they are being held without bail for violating the terms of their probation and are looking at long jail terms.

CBS News: Abington Yard Searched In Money Laundering Probe

The FBI, along with county investigators, dug up the yard of a Montgomery County mansion Wednesday as part of an alleged money laundering investigation. Eyewitnesses in the neighborhood of million dollar homes claim that they saw the FBI uncover what appeared to be bags of cash.

Sources also told Eyewitness News that the home belongs to Joe Mastronardo, who is the son-in-law of the late Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo. Mastronardo is currently in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility for violating probation. He was convicted of bookmaking in 2006. He is being held on $1 million bail.

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Pennsylvania Casino Fined $100,000 for Underage Gambling

Mar 08, 2010
Underage Gambling

Gambling regulators in Pennsylvania are fining Mount Airy Casino Resort a whopping total of $100,000 on the basis of underage gambling charges. Gamblers between the ages of 17 and 20 have caught at the casino 6 times in the last year, four of which were reported by the casino.

Bloomberg Business Week: Pa. casino fined $100,000 over underage gambling

Pennsylvania gambling regulators fined a Poconos resort casino $100,000 for underage gambling. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says gamblers between 17 and 20 years of age were caught playing slots 6 times at Mount Airy last year. In four of those cases the casino didn’t report the violations.

In an agreement with regulators Mount Airy also purchased 8 electronic scanning devices to check gambler driver’s licenses and other ID cards. Mount Airy’s vice president, Matthew Magda, says the casino is working to prevent future incidents and will report them if they occur.

In the last two years regulators have fined Pennsylvania casinos 9 times totaling $332,500 over underage gambling.

Pocono Record: Mount Airy hit with record fine by state

Mount Airy Casino Resort received a record $100,000 fine from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for 5 instances of underage gambling at the casino’s slots. Out of 5 instances, 4 were discovered by resort security yet never reported to the gaming board.

The incidents occurred between July and September 2009 when Pennsylvania’s gaming act made it illegal for anyone under 21 to operate slots and barred individuals under 18 from entering the gaming floor.

Eight identification-scanning devices were also bought by Airy to help prevent underage individuals from accessing the floor in the future. During the past 2 years, the board has levied fines 9 times for violation of underage gambling or minors on the gaming floor totaling $332,500.

The Morning Call: Underage gambling violations at Mount Airy result in $100,000 fine

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a $100,000 fine against Mount Airy Resort Casino for underage gambling violations that occurred in the last year. According to a news release from the Gaming Control Board, 6 gamblers between the ages of 17 and 20 were caught playing slot machines at Mount Airy Resort Casino last year.

Under Pennsylvania gaming laws, it’s illegal for those under 21 to use or operate a slot, and those under 18 are forbidden from the gaming floor. The law has changed and now dictates that no one under 21 years of age can enter the gaming floor.

The Gaming Control Board described the violations that occurred at Mt. Airy: Two 18-year-old males accessed the gaming floor and played slots on July 18; an 18-year-old male played slots on the gaming floor July 29, a 17-year-old male gained access to the gaming floor and played slots on Aug. 19; a 20-year-old female entered the gaming floor, cashed a large bill at the main cashier’s cage and played slots on Sept. 10; and a 20-year-old male played slots and was served alcohol in the bars located within the resort.

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Rivers Casino, Penn., Fined for Underage Gambling Violation

Jan 30, 2010
Slots in Rivers Casino, Pittsburgh

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is currently being fined a total of $16,000 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board due to two counts of Underage Gambling violation. A 14 year old girl and 15 year old boy managed to play slots in the casino where state law dictates no one is permitted to play under the age of 21.

MSN Money: Pa. gaming control board fines Rivers Casino

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has levied a $16,000 fine against Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh for underage gambling. The fine is an agreement between the board and Holdings Acquisition Co. LP, the casino operator, regarding 2 incidents in October and December.

A 15-year-old girl was able to play on a slot machine for about 17 minutes before being caught in October, and in December, a 14-year-old boy played slots for about 4 minutes.

Rivers Casino says it “takes this incident very seriously. We join the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in this and every effort to prevent underage gaming. That’s why we monitor our floors 24-7 and immediately report any occurrence, such as these, to the state.”

Extensive employee training and security are in place to prevent underage access, along with signs throughout the property. Parents and guardians are reminded that bringing minors onto the gaming floor is not allowed. State law prohibits anyone under 18 from entering the gaming floor of a licensed facility; anyone under 21 is barred from playing.

During the past two years, the Gaming Control Board says, it has levied fines statewide on eight occasions for violations of underage gambling or minors on the gaming floor totaling $232,500.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Pittsburgh casino fined for 2 teen slots players

State gaming regulators are fining a slot machine casino in Pittsburgh because a 15-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy were able to gamble for a few minutes each last year. The gaming board says a 15-year-old girl gambled for around 17 minutes on Oct. 15, while a 14-year-old boy played slots for about four minutes on Dec. 13 before he was caught.

The $16,000 fine imposed on the Rivers Casino on Wednesday was part of an agreement between the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and Holdings Acquisition Co. L.P., which owns the casino.

State law prohibits anyone under 21 to play slot machines and anyone under 18 from being on the casino floor.

PR Newswire: PA Gaming Control Board Fines Casino for Underage Gambling Violations

A $16,000 fine was levied today by the Commonwealth’s gaming oversight agency on a Pennsylvania casino operator for underage gambling violations. The fine was part of a consent agreement between the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and Holdings Acquisition Co. L.P., operator of the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. The penalties occurred at Rivers Casino in October and December of 2009.

Under the agreement, the casino must pay a fine of $16,000 for two incidents. The first was on October 14, when a 15-year-old female gained entry to the gaming floor and placed wagers on a slot machine for about 17 minutes. The second instance was on December 13, when a 14-year-old male gained entry to the floor and placed wagers on a slot for nearly 4 minutes.

The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act dictates that it’s unlawful for persons under 21 to operate or use slot machines and that individuals under 18 may not enter the gaming floor of a licensed facility.

During the past two years, the Gaming Control Board has levied fines statewide on eight occasions for violations of underage gambling or minors on the gaming floor totaling $232,500.

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