The land-based casino gambling industry in Atlantic City seems to be hurting more from nearby competition in other states than it does from online casinos, which despite the passing of the UIGEA, have managed to skirt around undefined enforcement regulations and continue taking safe and secure bets from U.S. gamblers at home. As indicated in a recent Associate Press report, Atlantic City is now pondering the important issue of comps and whether or not they are helping or hurting business.
While comps will always certainly be a means to attract gamblers, there is some concern now that too many comps are being handed out. And it's not just the number of comps that is concerning casino operators. It's who these comps are liberally given to that could be putting more strain on a gambling industry that needs anything but more strain.
Some analysts say that comps tend to draw the elderly crowd, who stereotypically take bus field trips to casinos and huddle around the slot machines all day. While it certainly isn't that black and white, the fact that Altantic City is lacking the resort amenities Las Vegas is known for having is indeed keeping a very large demographic from venturing to Atlantic City. And perhaps Atlantic City just simply can't become the phenomenon that is Las Vegas.
For the second year in a row, Atlantic City has seen a drop in casino gambling revenue. Some people blame it on the economy. A few even blame it on the online gambling industry. However, most people will accurately conclude it's the casinos of nearby state's, like Connecticut's Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun that are taking away the revenue of Atlantic City.
So the dilemma remains. Keep handing out comps to give these gamblers more reason to come back to Atlantic City, or cut back on the $1.63 billion that Atlantic City's eleven casinos collectively spent on comps in 2007? With numbers like that, Atlantic City may have to do the former as it attempts to reinvent itself.