The healthy sense of doom and gloom over the casino winnings from Revel in May is justified, but it truly needs a sense of perspective before detractors see the sky falling on that mysterious white sphere upon the roof.
The two bits of bad news, as reported in last week's revenue report for Atlantic City's casinos, are that, compared with last May's numbers, winnings fell at every casino that was open at this time last year — in five cases, the drops were more than 20 percent. Also, Revel — which, until Memorial Day weekend, was fully open but running in preview mode — took in less than $14 million. Judging by the drops in other casinos, it's not far fetched to imagine a lot of gamblers took their business to the new kid in town to see what all the buzz was about; if that's true, it means Revel isn't attracting new players to town.
But Revel is not a casino in the way most of Atlantic City's properties are. True, there are table games and slots, but it's presented itself as a destination all its own, with enough restaurants, nightclubs and other options that a casino floor is almost an afterthought. If it can keep acts like Beyoncé and Maroon 5 on its calendar, Revel should get plenty of interest from out-of-towners, who will hopefully — as the city improves itself — spend some of their time and money outside the casino.
It's fair to look at the table and slot winnings from places like the Atlantic Club and Harrah's to judge how their business is holding up, but Revel needs to be held to a different kind of standard. It's tough to take a broader perspective in an oversaturated, highly competitive market like Atlantic City, but Revel still offers the most hope for a wider impact on the city's rebirth.
Of course, if it can't draw a nongaming crowd and it fails at the tables, the doomsday crowd will have plenty to crow about. Let's hope it gets the ball rolling quickly, for Atlantic City's sake.