So much has happened during that time: casinos opened, recessions hit, the industry consolidated, neighboring states opened casinos, technology changed, Internet gaming launched, sports betting was legalized, a pandemic changed the way we live and work, and so much more.
What has remained the same is that Atlantic City is still the premier East Coast gaming destination, and it has more to offer than ever before. Further, the Atlantic City Convention Center is one of the largest convention centers on the East Coast. According to Visit NJ’s Economic Impact of Tourism in New Jersey 2022 report, Atlantic County saw the most visitors of any county in New Jersey last year, accounting for nearly 20% of the state’s total number of tourists. Last year, the county also recorded a 13% increase in visitor spending over 2021. This is in large part due to the significant investments the casino industry and others have made to diversify our historic beach town.
New Jersey’s secretary of state predicts a record number of tourists will visit the state this summer. Atlantic City, we hope, will be one of the most visited cities in New Jersey. The odds are in our favor: one-third of the U.S. population can travel to Atlantic City on a tank of gas, which makes the city an even more attractive tourist destination.
Data from NerdWallet shows the cost of travel increased 9% over the past year, but airfare saw an even greater surge with prices climbing nearly 18% from March 2022 to March 2023. Americans may be staying closer to home to keep vacation costs down. Recent survey data from The Vacationer shows that 78% of Americans plan to take a road trip this year, compared to 54% who plan to travel by plane, making Atlantic City a prime destination for tourists this summer.
Atlantic City continues to grow its convention business, hosting the National Governors Association Conference this summer, and the NAACP National Convention last summer. The 2022 year-end evaluation indicated that Visit Atlantic City and the Atlantic City Sports Commission hosted over 200 events, resulting in 264,551 room nights and nearly a half million attendees, generating a total economic impact of over $300 million. In addition, for every dollar invested in the Luxury Tax Revenue, Visit Atlantic City returns $34 to Atlantic City’s economy.
Further, the casino industry is working tirelessly to diversify and create world-class experiences for its customers, investing nearly $1 billion in the city and community through economic development projects that continue to provide world-class entertainment, dining and shopping, including:
- Bally’s invested over $100 million in exciting new renovations and gaming product;
- Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa recently announced a $55 million investment into redesigning and rebranding the Water Club;
- Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City Resorts is investing over $430 million in new restaurants, hotel rooms and entertainment across its properties;
- Golden Nugget Atlantic City launched a multi-million-dollar remodeling project;
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City invested over $30 million in annual entertainment and $45 million in casino, hotel, food & beverage, and event space facility upgrades;
- Ocean Casino Resort is investing $15 million to redesign additional hotel floors and recently invested $700,000 to widen the beach;
- Resorts Casino Hotel recently invested $10 million to renovate its year-round pool and pool deck, added hundreds of new slot machines and electronic table games, reconfigured the casino floor and launched its latest pop-up bar, Lounge 78, in honor of its 45th anniversary.
Despite the progress we are seeing and the potential opportunities that lie ahead, we remain level-headed about the challenges that we face. Over the years, Atlantic City has been impacted by economic downturns, an unprecedented pandemic and now a potential recession. After more than four decades of triumphs and challenges, this city has persevered thanks to strong community partnerships, collaboration with city and state officials and hard work.
As we look to the future, it is important for us to consider what the next 45 years have in store for us. Understanding we may face economic uncertainty, we must continue to work together and strengthen our relationships with key partners in our city including Stockton University, AtlantiCare, AC Devco, South Jersey Gas and others to further diversify our economy for future generations.
As you consider your plans this summer, we encourage you to revisit Atlantic City. This city will surprise you. There is something new here to experience every day from gaming to dining, huge conferences to intimate meetings, from entertainment to beaches. Whether you’re returning or visiting Atlantic City for the first time, the city is ready to welcome you.
Mark Giannantonio is president of the Casino Association of New Jersey.
Larry Sieg is the president & CEO of Visit Atlantic City.