Poll Finds New Jersey Gamblers Prefer Atlantic City

A new poll finds that only about 12 percent of New Jersey gamblers would take their business to new casinos being built in New York. But analysts say even that small of a drop in business could seriously hurt Atlantic City. Only 57 percent of respondents said they would still travel to the resort.

Atlantic City is still the favorite spot for New Jersey gamblers to take their business according to a new poll, but the casino resort may not have enough support as it faces new competition from New York casinos.

About 12 percent of respondents to the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll said they would take their business to one or more of four new casinos being built in New York. But analysts were quick to point out that even though the number is low, the resort could not easily absorb a 12 percent loss in gamblers.

The poll found that 57 percent of New Jerseyans said they would continue to play in Atlantic City with the remaining about 30 percent unsure—or did not answer—if they would switch.

“Atlantic City casinos have to be happy that they’re not facing wholesale defection,” said Dan Cassino, a political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the poll. “But even the loss of 12 percent of their customers, on top of what they’ve already lost, could be devastating.”

According to the poll, 41 percent of New Jersey voters say that either they or someone in their household has been to a casino in the past year. Of those that went to a casino, 77 percent say they went to Atlantic City.

Casino revenue in Atlantic City, however, has been falling since 2006 largely due to increased competition in neighboring states.

Kevin Ortzman, however, president of Caesars, Bally’s and the Showboat casinos, as well as of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said the poll shows Atlantic City still has strong support.

“The results of this poll underscore that our visitors return to Atlantic City time and again because it remains the heart of gaming, world-class entertainment and many great experiences in New Jersey and the entire region,” Ortzman told the Associated Press. “I believe as we continue to diversify with non-gaming amenities and experiences, we’ll not only retain the customer base, but grow through the new and exciting offerings and experiences Atlantic City will offer.”

The poll’s analysts, however, concluded that planned casinos in New York will clearly attempt to steal players from Atlantic City.

“The proposals for the new casinos come from heavy hitters and they want to open as near to New York City as the state will let them,” said Cassino. “They’re expecting a return on their investments, and they’re going to be very aggressive about taking the New York customers away from Atlantic City.”

The telephone poll of 907 New Jersey adults was conducted from May 27 to June 1 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.