In recent years, the Atlantic City casino market has fallen upon rough times. In 2014 alone, four of the Boardwalk City’s casinos closed their doors, leaving just eight to divvy up what was once one of the country’s most sustainable and inviting gambling markets. However, things aren’t really so simple for the remaining casinos. While Atlantic City stood alone in the Northeast as the only non-tribal gaming destination for nearly three decades, the scene has evolved in recent years. This change is evident in Massachusetts, which opened its first casino earlier this year, but other, more established destinations are proving to be much more formidable obstacles on the path to Atlantic City’s resurgence. Let’s take a look at a few casinos in markets near New Jersey’s historic gaming destination that are changing the New England casino industry.
Foxwoods Resort Casino
Mashantucket, Connecticut, is about 250 miles north of Atlantic City, making it nearly equidistant from the vital New York City market. While the city may not have the familiar ring of Atlantic City, Mashantucket is home to one of the world’s three largest casinos, as well as the largest on the planet outside of Macau. Foxwoods Resort Casino has approximately 340,000 square feet of gaming space – including 7,600 slot machines, 380 gaming tables, a 100-table poker room and a bingo hall that can accommodate an astonishing 3,600 players.
While Foxwoods originally opened in 1986 as a bingo palace, the casino has undergone multiple expansions over the years on its way to its current size. Today, guests are treated to the full Las Vegas-style experience, with three hotels, a full-service spa, retail stores, 30 restaurants and two championship golf courses.
In 2008, the Foxwoods got even bigger through a partnership with MGM Grand. Connected to the original casino by an enclosed walkway, the MGM Grand at Foxwoods added 50,000 square feet of additional gaming space as well as a host of other amenities.
Pennsylvania’s casino market is the second largest in the U.S. after Sin City in terms of gross revenue, and it ranks number one in terms of taxes collected. The Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, is the largest in the state. Less than 80 miles from Atlantic City, Parx originally opened in 1974 as Keystone Racetrack, but it’s come a long way since those days.
In 2006, the racetrack was awarded a conditional slots license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and, by 2010, the complex had expanded into two full-scale casino buildings offering approximately 3,500 slot machines, 140 live table games, a poker room with 60 tables and several dining options and bars.
While Atlantic City has made headlines for its recent financial performance, it’s still a long way away from the utter domination it once enjoyed along the eastern seaboard. Today, markets around the region have legalized casino gaming, making the competition tougher than ever before. For the Boardwalk City’s remaining casinos, competing against regional foes such as the Foxwoods and Parx will prove imperative to the city’s efforts to return to gambling prominence in the years to come.