After the confetti is swept away and the empty champagne bottles recycled in Atlantic City, 2024 will bring numerous challenges and potential opportunities for the East Coast gambling resort.
The most burning issue for Atlantic City in the new year is likely to be whether state lawmakers approve a measure to ban smoking in the nine casinos.
High-profile anti-crime and pedestrian safety measures should show whether they, in fact, work. A new $100 million indoor water park at the Showboat hotel will have its first summer season.
And the physical casinos will be watching closely to see whether gamblers continue to more widely embrace internet gambling and sports betting at the expense of doing it in person inside the casinos.
Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, which studies the Atlantic City gambling and tourism market, believes 2024 could see a return to more normal patterns after pandemic-related disruptions.
“There are several reasons for optimism in looking ahead to 2024,” she said. “With recent gains in the stock market and a stabilization of inflation, consumer confidence may be improving, which could lead to increased spending on travel and entertainment.”
She said recent pay raises for casino and hotel workers have eased labor shortages somewhat.
And even though internet gambling continues to grow, nongambling attractions like the Showboat water park and the new Dave and Busters arcade, bar and restaurant should help attract new visitors to the resort, she said.
Mark Giannantonio, president of Resorts casino as well as the Casino Association of New Jersey, said the industry is upbeat about Atlantic City’s prospects in the new year “as we further transform Atlantic City into the leading regional gaming and tourism destination.”
This will mark the fourth year of a sustained push to close a loophole in the state’s public smoking law that specifically exempted casinos from smoke-free workplaces. Despite ever-growing support — most of the state Legislature has signed on as co-sponsors, and New Jersey’s governor promises he’ll sign it — the bill has been bottled up in state government committees without votes.