NORTON NOTES: A Destination Casino Does More
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By Steve Norton
CEO, Norton Management
This is What a Proposed a $1B Dollar Casino, Entertainment Complex Could Look Like at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Atlanta certainly has the population to support a first class racetrack casino but as I have commented before, a destination casino in downtown Atlanta will
1) create the kind of attraction that will increase new conventions and add more exhibitors and attendees to Atlanta's already booked conventions and trade shows;
2) increase occupancies and average rates, mid-week, of the city's nearly 100,000 hotel accommodations;
3) casino gaming will bring in many new weekend tourists (helping hotels who experience large declines in occupancies on Fridays and Saturdays without traveling businessmen and conventioneers), plus new customers for area restaurants and entertainment events;
4) increase attendance to the many major attractions and sporting events held in Atlanta;
5) [and best of all] casino revenue, likely over a billion dollars a year, will come primarily from conventioneers, visiting businessmen, and tourists, all looking for evening entertainment.
On the Strip in Las Vegas, the attitude toward city-wide trade shows changed dramatically in 1990, when Las Vegas Sands brought Americas largest trade show, the computer industry's Comdex, needing enough rooms to accommodate 170,000 exhibitors and attendees. That year Las Vegas passed Chicago, as the top US convention destination, and has continued as number one, in all but a few years since.
And surprisingly, the 24 largest Strip properties, derive over 70 percent of their earnings from hotel, restaurant, convention, retail and entertainment departments, not from the casino. As a point of comparison, Atlantic City now depends on its casino department for over 90 percent of profits.
Those concerned about Georgian's becoming compulsive gamblers have to realize that Atlanta has over 90 flights a day to Las Vegas (6 or 7 nonstop), plus other gaming nearby in Biloxi, Alabama, and the Mountains of North Carolina.
The Georgia Legislature will find it easier to get the votes for a racetrack with slots, rather than a destination casino. But it is unknown what the voters will decide in a necessary referendum.