It’s a heck of a week in Atlantic City, even if a certain men’s basketball conference tournament being played there isn’t available as a legal gambling option.
The Tuesday forecast is for a high of 59 degrees, with similar temperatures forecast for the rest of the work week. Spring hasn’t yet sprung (don’t ask about the weekend or next week), but there is reason for optimism.
Still, the concern for the city’s nine casinos remains: Will crowds eagerly flock back to AC once “high season” begins in May?
A new “perception study” released by Stockton University’s LIGHT project — the Lloyd Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism — offers encouragement.
In a survey of 806 respondents on the “Do AC” website, 42% had visited Atlantic City at least once since the COVID-19 pandemic spread a year ago.
Gauging visitor safety perceptions
Those visitors were asked, on a scale of 1 to 100, to what extent they felt “relatively safe from Covid-19 exposure on last visit for normal AC activities.”
“Gambling” and “Dining,” the core revenue sources for casinos, each led the way with average scores of 76 for feelings of safety, and “Shopping” was right behind at 75. “Beach/Boardwalk” somewhat surprisingly checked in at just 73 despite outdoor activities having lower infection rates.
“Restrooms” earned a score of 72, which of course is less surprising. The last-place finisher was “Meetings,” which again take place in confined spaces.
But the fact that all aspects earned a passing grade, even from those weighing in during January and February on their experiences, bodes well for the casinos in the warmer months ahead.
A general question about “Reopening Trip Satisfaction” produced a score of 78, which also seems positive. The same is true of length of visitation, with 57% visiting on a “multi-day” trip and another 22% staying overnight.
When are you coming back?
As for these respondents’ timetable for their next visit, 46.4% replied “within the next 3 months.” Another 26% said it would be three to six months before a return, which would still indicate a visit before summer ends.
Another 14.5% said it would take another six to 12 months before they return, while just under 1% said they “don’t intend to visit” Atlantic City again.
Among those who haven’t visited Atlantic City in the pandemic era, which was a slender majority of those responding, 64% of them blamed the pandemic and 21% answered that they were “busy.” Another 8% cited “economic” reasons and 5% cited “family” concerns, each of which could also be related to COVID-19.
“Limited services” — a reality of there being fewer casino and tourism-related offerings in the current environment — proved to be the main deal-breaker for only 3% of respondents.
Stockton’s hospitality program last month was rated seventh-best in the U.S. by study.com, which “assessed affordability, accessibility, tuition, acceptance and graduation rates and student organizations.”