NJ lawmakers considering cap on Atlantic City casinos

The debate for limiting the number of Atlantic City casinos has been reignited. Recently there was a request by the Showboat Casino to subdivide its property. The request was granted, and this brought the debate about limiting casinos in Atlantic City to the forefront again.

The subdivision request from Bart Blatstein, who owns the Showboat Casino, is for working around the restrictions in the property deed, which was transferred when the property was sold to prevent casino operations. New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo is against adding another casino in Atlantic City and said, “That’s just a bad idea.”

There is support for the restriction of casinos in Atlantic City. Drawbacks to more casinos include:

• Hurting the casino market with saturation
• It would not be convenient for customers
• Companies that are less deserving could be rewarded unfairly

Jim Johnson is part of a team headed by Governor Phil Murphy that is evaluating the “very serious concern” surrounding the growth of the Atlantic City gambling industry.

“The trend lines suggest things are going to be down,” he said.

“The Atlantic City casino industry is vulnerable to challenges from within, and competition from outside the state. The data is really stark.”


Opponents of further regulation believe restricting the number of Atlantic City casinos will impede growth and fuel the black market. Meanwhile, New Jersey state officials are more concerned with casinos going out of business. They want to avoid another downturn such as the one that Atlantic City survived when the Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino opened from two closed casinos.

In 2019’s first two quarters there was a decline in revenue for all Atlantic City casinos except the Hard Rock and Ocean Resort. However, those revenues increase significantly when online gambling is factored in. Casino.org reported that Joe Lupo, who is the president of the Hard Rock, said “top-line revenue” does not translate when it comes to the bottom line.

Some have questioned whether it is the New Jersey DGE’s job to aid land-based casinos into being profitable. If there is more competition, it may force existing casinos to look into their business practices. More casinos will mean all casinos must do whatever they can in order to attract customers.

If there are regulations in place to keep casinos from closing, that is advantageous to the casinos but not the customers. AC casinos are not meeting the needs of gamblers, as highlighted by their poor revenue returns.

Innovation is the lifeblood of any industry. For example, the Golden Nugget is not the largest land-based casino in Atlantic City, but its online gambling business is the best of the bunch. More casinos need to follow that blueprint.

The customers should be the ones that regulate the casino industry in Atlantic City. If this is the case it is beneficial for players, casinos, and the state of New Jersey.

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