With apologies to Macau and Las Vegas, New Jersey may well have been the center of the gambling world this year, at least when it came to news stories.
It was a rough and tumble year for the Atlantic City casino industry, one that saw resorts close left and right and the state take on the federal government and major sports leagues in court.
Here’s a look back at one of the more interesting year’s for New Jersey’s gaming industry in recent memory.
Casinos Leave Town at Frightening Pace
When the Atlantic Club shut down in January, it didn’t seem like cause for concern, as it had been the least popular casino in Atlantic City for some time. But that was only the first of many closure announcements to come this year.
In late August and September, three Atlantic City casinos shut down in rapid succession: the Revel Casino Hotel, the Showboat, and the Trump Plaza all ceased operations within a matter of weeks.
That meant that a third of the city’s 12 casinos shut down in 2014, and the Trump Taj Mahal is likely to follow by early 2015.
Online Gambling Underwhelms
If online gambling was supposed to be the cure for Atlantic City’s ills, then the performance of New Jersey’s Internet casinos and poker rooms has to be seen as a sore disappointment.
The total win for the casinos from online games has worked out to about $10 million per month: nothing to sneeze at, but also far short of the overly optimistic projections made by state lawmakers a year ago.
There may be help on the horizon, however, as new regulations will allow for social media games and other innovations, and payment issues appear to be improving, albeit slowly.
The Sports Betting Long Shot
Over the course of 2014, New Jersey lost federal court battles over their plans to offer regulated sports betting in the state. But the wording of those rulings gave the state a new idea: offer sports betting without actually regulating it.
The major sports leagues didn’t take kindly to that idea, either, and were successful in getting a temporary injunction to stop racetracks and casinos from taking bets on their games. The ultimate outcome of that case, however, remains to be seen.
Trump Wants Name Out of AC
You know things are bad in Atlantic City when even Donald Trump says his reputation is being damaged due to his association with two casinos there. But that was the case this year, as Trump successfully sued to get his name off of the Trump Plaza after it closed, and is in the process of attempting to do the same at the Trump Taj Mahal. Trump is no longer an active owner of the casinos, owning just ten percent of parent company Trump Entertainment.
Union Battles at Taj Mahal
The fight over Trump’s name wasn’t the only battle at the Taj Mahal. Union members were outraged by a proposed plan for the owners to sell the casino to Carl Icahn, who would only keep the casino open if he received major concessions from unions (not to mention tax benefits from the city and the state). A bankruptcy court allowed the Taj Mahal to break their contract with the union, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to save the casino.