Atlantic City

March 25, 2013

Much has been written of late about the declining state of gambling in Atlantic City.  I had not been there for several years until last weekend, when a family wedding in somewhat nearby Philadelphia and a nice offer from the Resorts casino combined to lure me me for a visit.

It appeared that hurricane Sandy had largely spared the city from visible disaster or, if it hadn’t, that a through cleanup had been completed.  I saw a lot of ongoing construction, especially at Resorts, as well as activity relating to maintenance of the beach, which would have been attractive had the weather been warmer.   People were out on the boardwalk during the day, though cool temperatures and strong breezes kept the big crowds away.

Resorts, now being managed  by Mohegan Sun, had a good assortment of video poker machines.  Aided by vpfree2, I found 9/6 jacks or better machines at $.25, $1.00, $2.00 and $5.00, though they were well hidden among 8/5 machines, which predominated.  I also found $.25 pick ’em poker, but not with the full-pay table.  Unlike Mohegan Sun, players at Resorts earn players club points on full pay machines.

Part of the offer I received from Resorts was a player’s club card at the highest (paramount) level.  While checking my points at a kiosk, I discovered that I had been awarded a $100 dining credit (in addition to the room nights, $85 food credit and generous free play promised on my mailer).  My companion and I used the credits on a very nice dinner and a bottle of wine at Capriccio, the gourmet Italian restaurant, at which both the food and service were first-rate.  At the conclusion of our meal, I was as surprised as when I discovered the $100 dining credit to hear from our waiter that, as a paramount card holder, I could have received a free bottle of wine (though not the one we ordered) with our dinner.

I was very well treated by Resorts, and I don’t want this to sound like a complaint, but why would a resort offer a player substantial benefits like a $100 dining credit and a free bottle of wine and not make sure that the player is aware of these benefits?  I find many player’s club programs similarly opaque.  If players knew about all the benefits they were entitled to, they would feel more appreciated.

In addition to checking on the Borgata (still nice, still crowded) and the new Golden Nugget (nice, but not as nice as the Borgata, and not as crowded), I made sure to take the short walk from Resorts to check out the Revel, which impressed me a great deal.  The property is beautiful, with windows admitting light and affording ocean views from the casino.  The smoke free policy (for as long as it will last, which I suspect is not long) is a real blessing for those who, like me, are sensitive to smoke.  I found full pay jacks for a dollar and saw what appeared to be six-deck, stand on 17 blackjack games on the main floor, though the minimum per hand could not be determined because the tables were not open and the signs therefore were not lit.  The only negative I experienced was the lack of any kind of offer for new sign-ups for the Revel player’s card.  It would have been nice to have received a little free play or a coupon for use at a restaurant.  Nonetheless, unless this property is way below average in comps and  mail offers, which some scuttlebutt on the internet suggests is the case,  I can’t understand why it is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy.  It is one of the nicest properties I have seen anywhere, and I hope it can survive and maintain its no smoking policy.

In sum, Atlantic City had attractive properties with better games than I had expected to find.  There are some small annoyances one does not find at other gambling venues — charges of $5.00 to park (waived at most properties for highest level players card holders) and a $5.00 tax per night on comped rooms.  The key is whether, now that it no longer has a monopoly on gambling in the northeast, Atlantic City can differentiate itself to again become a destination.  The Revel as it now is apparently has not done the trick; sports betting might.  For me, it’s worth a stop if I’m nearby, or if I get an exceptional offer, but there usually are equally attractive gambling opportunities for me much closer to home.