As further evidence that the northeastern United States’ casino market is nearing or has already past saturation point, Pennsylvania’s 11 casinos just reported their first annual revenue decline from slot machines in the six years since the state opened its first legal gaming den in 2006. Facing increased competition from neighboring states such as Maryland, New York and Ohio, Pennsylvania’s total slots revenue in the fiscal year ending June 30 was $2.43b, off 2% from the previous year’s tally. Las Vegas Sands’ market-leading Sands Bethlehem was the only casino to show year-on-year slots growth, and even that was limited to a 1.7% bump. Table games figures won’t be disclosed for a few more weeks.
New Jersey must feel a touch of schadenfreude at Pennsylvania’s stagnation, given that the rise of Pennsylvania’s casinos neatly dovetails with Atlantic City’s uninterrupted six-year streak of revenue decline. Perhaps Pennsylvania should take a cue from Atlantic City’s increasingly creative methods of jumpstarting – or at least attempting to jumpstart – its sagging casino business.
Case in point: on Sept. 1, the Trump Taj Mahal will launch its ‘$200 Grand In The Sand’ promotion, in which vouchers worth a total of $200k will be put into burlap sacks and buried in the sandy beach behind the gaming joint for 20 randomly selected customers to uncover. Each player will be given a shovel and assigned to a 30-square-foot portion of the beach, then told to start digging. Whatever the value of the voucher they find – prizes range from $1k to $100k – can be exchanged for actual cash at the cashier window. If customers are either too bone-idle or inept to locate their specific voucher, Trump staff will lend a helping hand.
The Taj Mahal is also planning to open a 36k-square-foot strip club on the casino’s second floor. The space which once held three restaurants will be taken over by Scores, the New York-based ‘gentlemen’s club’ franchise. In addition to the main showcase area, the $25m project will feature seven separate offerings, including a sports bar, lounge and – that’s right, ladies – a ‘male revue.’ Scores Atlantic City managing partner Bob Gans said the project would give the Taj “a distinct competitive advantage,’ but the Division of Gaming Enforcement – which approved the strip club plan in December 2011 – says dancers can only strip down to their G-strings and nipple pasties. There will also be no lap dances. A strip club with no nudity? Makes digging in the sand sound like a good time…