On Monday, Feb. 4, Michael Frawley, president of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, urged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to sign a bill allowing for legalized online gaming.
Frawley, whose one-year old Atlantic Club (formerly the A.C. Hilton) reportedly may be sold to online poker giant Rational Group (PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker), says legalizing online gambling is a special opportunity for the resort to jump-start its struggling gaming economy and at the same time save thousands of jobs.
About 100 management jobs would also be added to Atlantic City if the deal goes through, Frawley said.
Frawley told the Associated Press on Monday that online wagering could create “a wave of new investment in Atlantic City.”
“I see this as an amazing opportunity for New Jersey, a defining moment for The Atlantic Club, for the city and for New Jersey,” Frawley said. “We have a potential purchaser willing to build its U.S. corporate headquarters in the city, and willing to build a call center elsewhere in New Jersey. This is much more than just someone sitting in their living room with a computer.”
Frawley said Rational, based in Isle of Man, wants to invest $80 million in the casino hotel over the next five years, including $30 million of that amount in 2013.
One major question remains: If Gov. Christie does not sign the Internet gambling bill into law, will Rational still be interested in buying the Atlantic Club?
The Casino Association of New Jersey; Atlantic City’s largest casino workers’ union; an online gambling trade association; and several state lawmakers are in favor of legalizing Internet gambling in New Jersey.
Already, it has been noted, the state of Nevada “is licensing companies to conduct online gambling, and it and at least three other states are considering approving interstate gambling pacts in which groups of states can jointly offer online gambling,” according to the AP.
“We are a gaming state; not to be actively involved in this would be a missed opportunity,” Frawley said.
Thousands of jobs have been lost over the past seven years or so due to consistent drops in quarterly revenue for the city’s 12 casinos. The loss of revenue for the casinos runs parallel to the emergence of casinos and legalized gambling in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.
“People here are scared,” Frawley said. “We have a chance we absolutely have to take advantage of. Frankly, I don’t know how many more chances we’re going to get.”