|The economic slowdown in the United States seems to have hit at the heart of one of the land-based casino industry’s biggest advantages over their online brethren, the comp.|
According to a recent piece from the Associated Press, the amount of freebies handed out in Atlantic City casinos declined 2.4 percent last year with the city's eleven gambling halls split on how desirable it is to continue to hand out free meals, hotel rooms or show tickets to gamblers.
For the first time since casinos opened in the New Jersey seaside resort 30 years ago, revenues have declined with out-of-state slot parlours continuing to steal the most reliable customers, senior citizens.
'You can definitely tell it's slowing down,' retiree Charles Lafferty from Pennsylvania told the Associated Press.
'One woman we come down with used to get hundreds of dollars at a time. Now she says it's a lot less.”
However, it is not cheap and the city's casinos collectively spent $1.63 billion last year on comps in an environment forcing venues to tighten their belts in order to deal with an economic slowdown and intense competition from out-of-state gambling halls.
'It's a difficult culture to break,' said Nick Danna, Senior Equity Analyst at Sterne Agee and Leach.
'The expectation is still there and the customers are used to it. There are certain customers that Atlantic City really shouldn't attract anymore because they're just not profitable. Then there are other customers they'd like to comp less but it's very difficult because they are used to it.'
Danna stated that the real opportunity for Atlantic City is in attracting customers who currently look down on the resort as the domain of elderly people who clamber off buses with buffet coupons in hand.