Land-based casinos can be huge money generators, but they have one fatal flaw. They can’t come to you. In the past, Atlantic City casinos relied on a steady stream of buses arriving from out of state, each one loaded down with blue-haired grannies out for a day of fun, gabbing with their girls and playing the slots. But then all those other states got into the casino biz, and suddenly the idea of spending several hours on a poorly ventilated bus with a broken down toilet lost a little of its appeal.
It was bad enough when Atlantic City casinos began losing these out of state customers, but pretty soon Northern New Jersey residents realized that the Pennsylvania casinos are closer than Atlantic City, so now the cross-border casino buses are heading in the opposite direction. New York is piling on, with Yonkers Racetrack in New York drawing 11% of its clientele from Jersey, in part because it has slots on site.
In an effort to highlight this dilemma, former Jersey guv and current State Senator Dick Codey recently rode a bus to the Mount Airy Casino in Pennsylvania. As public statements go, it’s hardly Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat, but Codey has slightly different motivations, such as convincing the state to allow slots at the Meadowlands racetrack. But while this would benefit the local horseracing biz, Atlantic City casinos are concerned this is going to further cannibalize their existing market. Codey isn’t shedding any tears for them, observing that “they’ve (already) lost the monopoly.”
If only there was some way of making these casinos equally available to gamblers regardless of where they lived. You know, like if you could somehow digitize the action and pump it down a wire that was already connected to your home or mobile communications device… Yeah, that would be great.