Thursday, March 13, 2008

Philly vs. AC: Who Wins the Gambling Wars?

I know I usually reserve this spot for reviews of South Jersey restaurants, retailers, and rest stops, but I'm turning over a new leaf today and providing a little analysis for those who are so inclined to read on. Hopefully you are one of them. (I'll make it quick, don't worry!)

So a lot has been made in recent months about how the introduction of legalized gambling in Pennsylvania has put a damper on the "winnings" of the Atlantic City casinos. The reports are out there about how the recent months represent the first time in the history of legalized gambling in Atlantic City that the gambling empire there has lost money compared to the same time period last year. That's a bummer but I'm not worried.

To me, the slots machines are just the sideshow when it comes to the potential that AC has in its future. Sure, Philly and the Poconos and other random places throughout Pennsylvania will have slot machines, but no place in Pennsylvania can compare with what Atlantic City has to offer... a growing resort for vacationers.

In AC there are dozens of hotels of varying quality and price, there's a variety of game tables (and potentially sports betting, BTW), there's the beach, a growing outlet mall, themed buildings that are popping up left and right, celebrity sightings, the Boardwalk, amusements for kids, concert venues, heck, even a wind farm. Where can you find all that in just a few square miles in Pennsylvania? Nowhere.

If AC plays its cards right (yeah, I just had to say that), it will definitely win this game in the long run. People love going to resort destinations where they can stay busy for a long weekend or a week at a time. Look no further than Las Vegas, Disney World, and other venues.

Atlantic City also has the advantage of being right near New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Baltimore. For people in this vacinity, traveling 1-4 hours to get there and set up shop for the weekend is nothing compared to packing up, flying all day, paying a lot of money in airfare, and generally being incovenienced by the torture that is air travel and renting a car. While it's nice to vacation in exotic spots, I'll take the local sand on my toes for a short spell here and there throughout the year.

Philadelphia, for all its worth, offers a lot but is in a different league than a resort town like AC. And how many people, in the long run, will want to continue sitting at a shiny slot machine and pull a lever all day? With the action and interaction that younger generations of today enjoy, I can't see them wanting to do that when they get older, compared to today's older generations. Slots are passive entertainment; game tables, concerts, and walking the Boardwalk are all active entertainment that will likely continue to grow, in my humble opinion.

So good luck Philly in your slots game. But fear not AC, you'll be pulling a full house soon enough...

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