This is why Atlantic City won't catch Las Vegas
The East Coast gambling hotspot of Atlantic City, N.J., is not likely to give its desert rival Las Vegas a run for its money anytime soon, Caesars Entertainment Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman told CNBC on Thursday.
"There are two offsetting forces at the moment," Loveman said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "The business has been contracting over the last few years as a result of so much new competition. [And] it makes it hard for people to invest in that market."
The American Gaming Association said that gambling revenues in Atlantic City totaled $3 billion last year—down 42 percent from the 2006 peak of $5.2 billion.
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By contrast, gaming revenues from the Vegas Strip were $6.2 billion last year—down only about 9 percent from the 2007 high of $6.8 billion.
But Las Vegas has become a lot more than just gambling with entertainment, nightlife, top restaurants, and family-friendly attractions.
"What Atlantic City needs is all these other activities," said Loveman. "It's gotten much better at things like nightlife. There are now some great clubs that are active in Atlantic City. There's much more entertainment. But in particular it needs the convention and meeting business."
Atlantic City does not even account 1 percent of the $16 billion convention and meeting market in the Northeast region of the U.S.
"We can't imagine Vegas without convention and meeting attendees from Sunday to Thursday," Loveman said.
In hopes of driving more visitors, especially mid-week, to Atlantic City, Caesars earlier this summer started building a 250,000-square-foot convention and meeting center on a corner of its Harrah's Resorts property in the beach resort .
"We don't have much of an issue with people telling us they go to Atlantic City and don't like the experience," said Loveman. "The problem is we need to get more people there for a variety of reasons."
Caesars operates primarily under its namesake resorts as well as the Harrah's and Horseshoe brand names in 13 states, including New Jersey and Nevada. Caesars also owns the World Series of Poker and the London Clubs International family of casinos.