Apparently the house doesn’t always win.
For nearly two years now, casinos across the board have been losing money. Blame the economy. Point fingers at smoking bans. But no matter what the reason, casinos aren’t pulling away as many chips lately as the “eye in the sky” would prefer.
News of the gaming industry’s latest woes came Tuesday morning as Reuters reported that Casino operator Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to court documents, wiped out by the recession and a mountain of debt.
According to the report, the casino operator had assets of about $2.1 billion and total debts of about $1.74 billion on December 31 it said in its filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.
Travel Agent attended last year’s Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit (ACTS) last year in Washington D.C. and was particularly interested in a stat we learned -- casino travel had dipped roughly 15 percent in one year in the Caribbean. Well, apparently that decline far exceeds the Caribbean islands. As Travel Agent’s unofficial casino expert, I’ve noticed plenty of empty seats in the many Caribbean casinos I frequent as well as a lot of open space in my own casino playground of Atlantic City.
In fact, Atlantic City tourism officials told us casinos have been losing money for the last 22 months in everywhere from the Caribbean to Atlantic City to even the Goliath of gaming destinations, Las Vegas.
As Travel Agent’s Caribbean expert, this is sad particularly for the islands. Casinos, especially in poor countries like the Dominican Republic, are a major source of revenue and a past time that many local casino employees depend on. Without packed seats at casinos, less people are gambling, less people are winning, less people are drinking, less people are losing. And this all equates to one thing: less tips for employees who need to put food on the table.
Now, I don’t expect casinos to get a bailout anytime soon, but hopefully more travelers will factor gaming into their budgets when they visit the islands. Besides the gambling aspect, they are a great option during a rainy night in the Caribbean. Travelers can enjoy live music at most establishments or simply watch sports events on flat screen televisions while mingling with the locals.
Compensation in the form of free meals and discounted rooms are usually given to high rollers who are about to lose their money. Perhaps casinos should offer them before their guests even enter the door.
Casinos are taking way too many hits lately. And like the game of Blackjack, if you take too many hits, you are bound to bust.