Aug 12, 2014
Inside Atlantic City's Free-falling Poker Scene
By RTR Dennis
One theme that's dominated casino news this year is the struggles of Atlantic City. In 2006, Atlantic City boasted 12 casinos and earned $5.2 billion in gaming revenue. The town's annual gaming revenue has since fallen by over $2 billion, and the Atlantic Club was the first casualty of this dramatic drop in early 2014. Now, both the Showboat and Trump Plaza casinos expect to close before the year ends, and the Revel may follow suit if they can't find a buyer soon.
Obviously this is bad from the standpoint that Atlantic City is losing a good chunk of their casino market along with thousands of jobs. And one of the understated results of these troubles is that Atlantic City's poker scene is also diminishing as well. That said, let's discuss this problem by covering what poker rooms will be lost and how many tables will go down with them.
Fewer and Fewer Poker Tables
When the Atlantic Club closed, it didn't really hit poker players hard because there were no poker tables there. The same will be true of Trump Plaza if they indeed follow through with their planned September 16th shutdown. The Revel, which will close before September if they can't attract a buyer, got rid of their 37-table poker room last year since it only brought in $90,000 a month.
One doomed casino that runs an active poker room is Showboat. Their planned close date is August 31st, which means that their 24 poker tables will also be gone too.
While there's no word that Atlantic City's other eight casinos are in danger of closing, some have reduced the number of poker tables they offer. The Trump Taj Mahal (62 tables) and Golden Nugget (10) have both removed 8 and 10 tables from their rooms, respectively.
Overall, the number of Atlantic City poker tables has dropped from 343 to 279 in the last two years alone - about a 19 percent decrease. This means that the town's live poker scene has fallen to fifth in the US, behind Los Angeles (575), Las Vegas (544), South Florida (418) and Oklahoma (325).
The Bright Spots
It's not all bad news for the East Coast gambling hub's poker market. For starters, the Borgata features one of America's most popular poker rooms, and they host some huge tournament events. Although they reduced their number of tables from 85 to 75 to solve a floor space problem, the Borgata's poker room is crushing with $1.5 million in monthly revenue.
Another point worth mentioning here is that Caesars Palace closed their room to create a bigger and better poker venue with neighboring Bally's. Before the merger, the casinos combined for 40 tables; after the merger, they now feature 65 poker tables together. Other rooms like Harrah's (40) and the Tropicana (27) have maintained the number of tables that they offer players.
So while some casinos continue to decrease the size of, or close, their poker rooms, others are still doing okay in the shrinking Atlantic City market.