Survey: Atlantic City's casino shutdown sent gamblers elsewhere

The New Jersey state budget impasse that forced Atlantic City's casinos to shutdown for two days in July resulted in many visitors canceling their vacation plans to the beach and casino destination, according to a survey of 1,386 consumers conducted by Harris Interactive.

Overall, the survey found that only 9% had plans to visit Atlantic City to gamble on July 5 through 7, the days the budget impasse forced the state to furlough government casino inspectors, which resulted in the state's 12 casinos shutting down.

Of those with plans to visit Atlantic City for gambling on those dates, nearly half (49%) canceled those plans when the casinos shutdown. Others (23%) simply went to another casino destination, including 3% that jetted off to Las Vegas.


But the biggest beneficiary of Atlantic City's casino shutdown was Connecticut.

The survey found 13% of gamblers that went forward with their travel plans headed to the casinos in Connecticut, such as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Still, 6% said they went to Atlantic City anyway, despite the lack of gaming activities.

The majority of respondents (86%) were aware of the budget impasse and especially the casino shutdown, which was an unprecedented event in the history of Atlantic City. But most (78%) blamed lawmakers and the governor (58%) for the shutdown, rather than the casinos (5%).

The survey was conducted from July 7 to 10 and involved travelers ages 21 and old in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Atlantic City came into the crossfire between New Jersey's governor, Jon Corzine, and the state legislature when a July 1 deadline for approving the state's budget for the 2007 fiscal year came and went. The governor then began furloughing nonessential government employees.

After Independence Day, the furloughs continued with state parks and beach employees. Finally, on July 5, the casino inspectors who supervise gaming activity in Atlantic City were sent home. Casinos, by law, are not permitted to operate without state supervision.

The casinos finally reopened 72 hours later after the governor and state lawmakers reached a budget deal.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Michael Milligan at [email protected].

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