Timeout from online spewage to take a look at the live realm - all the poker movement in PA/DE/MD lately produced a couple of reasoned takes from Jordan and Riggstad.
The thing is, both of them are looking at it from a New York/Philly point of view. When you move further south down here to DC/NoVa- the logistics of Atlantic City become a much bigger problem.
No matter what, it'll always be a four hour haul door to door. Sure, you can speed, take shortcuts, hop a bus... whatever, unless a bunch of gnomes dig a tunnel under the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware, actually getting there will always be a sunk cost of time and money spent en route and not at the tables.
Of course, when it's the only option around in a 400-mile radius, hey, that's an acceptable price to pay. And when that changes...
AC has always taken advantage of a near-monopoly on East Coast gaming and coasted on that for years. It's like the newspaper industry - the fundamental, entrenched advantage the incumbent has over upstarts ends up turning the major players into dinosaurs, unable to adapt.
Once conditions change - the rise of the Internet, or other states suddenly competing in gaming - Goliath can fall a lot faster and harder than you can possibly imagine - Bizzaro Obi-Wan, if you will.
AC hasn't prospered because of appealing attractions, or inspired management, or the best gaming options. It's prospered by default - because the region surrounding it chose not to play the game. Until now.
I haven't been to AC since playing in a Borgata tourney back in January 2009. Now, I've got a family and a three-month old, so that would kill most poker junkets anyway - but if there was a room 60-90 minutes away, I'm sure I would have hit a short afternoon session or made a day trip by now.
Availability and convienence are far more crucial factors than people want to acknowledge. I love the Borgata - I think they run their room right and put together some wonderful tournaments and structures - but I can't afford to burn the travel time to get there.
Ok, so let's assume you decide to make a destination trip of Atlantic City instead. Maybe it's a family trip, maybe just you and the missus. Now you introduce all of the other factors - AC still is a bleaker, colder, more depressed and depressing area than other coastal options (Ocean City, Virginia Beach, Outer Banks) - hotel costs are just way overvalued for what you actually get - you can't pump your own gas anywhere in the state - every U-turn is a cloverleaf - Jersey players are the grumpiest people ever - blahblahblah, the whines get sillier the longer we go on.
I don't think AC can compete by going cheap; that doesn't address any of its disadvantages - and to be honest, you can't really incentive someone like me enough with comps or discounted rooms to overcome most of those problems. It's not enough that there's an outlet mall or carnival or pier or whatever new geegaw got built this summer - stuff like that is everywhere and just brings you parity with your competition. (I came all the way here for just this?)
What does AC offer that (name your casino/vacation spot) doesn't?
Honestly, if Charles Town or Arundel Mills or Delaware Park can just give me a comparable poker experience, one that's 80-90% good enough - well, I don't see why I'd be in AC again unless there's another great deepstack tourney Tab's running at the Borgata, or I just want to get out of town and eat a greasy White House Sub.
Market differentiation by going upscale, becoming a Vegas East with unique entertainment and gaming options - is probably the only path with any chance of long-term success - but I have a hard time seeing that actually executed correctly in Atlantic City.
If all these new states don't screw up gaming on their own - then yeah, the ship be sinking indeed.
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