Resorts AC — once on the brink of disaster — is now one of the hottest properties in Atlantic City, and could get even hotter if PokerStars makes its way into New Jersey.

From the ashes, Resorts rises

An Associated Press story detailed the fall — and subsequent rise — of Resorts Casino. Under the leadership of the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut, in the past five years Resorts has gone from cautionary tale to an example of how Atlantic City might turn things around.

From the AP:

On Wednesday, Resorts opened a $9.4 million expansion of its meeting and conference space to take advantage of a pressing need in the struggling gambling resort. It also served as a celebration of how far the casino has come against some daunting odds.

“It was dead, and it has been brought back to life,” said Resorts President Mark Giannantonio. “The year I started here three years ago, this place lost $12 million. Last year we made $2.5 million. And this year we will do far better than that.”

The story related the story that in 2009, the former owners had nearly given up on the casino and were about to default on their loans. But since then, things have gone amazingly well for the once struggling casino.

What’s gone right at Resorts?

The biggest positive factor in the Resorts turnaround has clearly been Mohegan’s involvement. Back in 2012, Resorts and Mohegan announced a partnership that would put the Connecticut tribe in charge of operations.

The changes and success have been nothing short of extraordinary. And analysts saw the turnaround coming, as soon as the partnership was inked. From the Press of Atlantic City, three years ago:

In choosing Mohegan Sun as his new partner,Resorts Casino Hotel owner Morris Bailey has established an alliance with one of the top casino operators in the country, analysts say.

Other Atlantic City casinos that had grown accustomed to Resorts being a pushover will now face a more formidable competitor — one that can tap the Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut and Pennsylvania for new customers.

“It’s not good news for the competitors,” Greg Roselli, a casino analyst for UBS Securities, said of the Resorts-Mohegan Sun deal. “Atlantic City is still a very challenged market. Before, you had a property that was not much of a competitor, but is now taking a big step to expand its customer base.”

Growing online casinos, too

The brick-and-mortar operation isn’t the only good part about Resorts. It also now features two different online gambling sites in New Jersey: one under its own brand, and one under the Mohegan Sun brand.

Resorts got a late start in offering online casino games, but it has managed to carve out meaningful marketshare, which only adds to the gains it has made on the land-based side.

Resorts has seen revenue grow from its online operation every month since launching in February.

And Resorts isn’t done there

The “piece de resistance” for Resorts might still be to come. Resorts AC is the land-based partner of PokerStars, which has had its sights set on entering the regulated New Jersey online poker market.

Just this past week, Resorts’ owner said that the final disposition of PokerStars’ online gambling license would be known “in weeks, not months.” That would mean PokerStars could be operation in New Jersey as soon as September. The brand awareness that comes with PokerStars could make its online poker offering relevant almost immediately.

If PokerStars ends up getting its license via Resorts, that’s yet another gamechanger for the AC casino. And that means it has the chance to go from nearly closing its doors permanently to becoming one of the most vibrant properties on the boardwalk.

Photo by Magnus Manske used under license CC BY-SA 3.0

Dustin Gouker

About

Aside from his role as editor at LegalSportsReport.com, Dustin Gouker writes extensively about the legal online gaming and US online poker industries, having played poker recreationally for his entire adult life. He has also covered sports for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among others.