How has Borgata fended off what was supposed to be the big challenge to its dominance of AyCee's gaming industry?
For starters, executives at Borgata, which is at Renaissance Pointe on the bay side of the city, did not ignore Revel's potential to be a game-changer.
"We were not going to lie down. We were not simply going to hand over our customer base," said Joe Lupo, Borgata's senior vice president of operations.
The casino's brain trust devised a strategy whose basic message was, "Just because there's a new property doesn't mean it's a better property," Lupo said.
The centerpiece of the pre-emptive game plan was last year's $50 million makeover of Borgata's 9-year-old hotel tower (not to be confused with its 4-year-old Water Club.) Besides this project, which Lupo cited as the most important (and expensive) part of the plan, Borgata also added the Long Bar, a public cocktail lounge; the Society Club, a private retreat for high-stakes gamblers; and Vintage, a wine outlet. A million dollars also went into upgrading the poker room, Atlantic City's preeminent card parlor.
Lupo also spoke of the importance of his hotel's reliance on customer service, its inventory of restaurants affiliated with celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay, and its A-list-filled entertainment roster (recent and upcoming headliners include Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld and John Legend). But according to one casino business observer, such "front-of-the-house" assets are just part of the story of Borgata's success.
Steve Norton, chief executive of Norton Gaming Management LLC, a casino consulting firm, suggested Borgata's corporate bloodlines have played a crucial role. Unlike Revel, which is backed by financial institutions otherwise unconnected to the gambling realm, Borgata is owned and operated by Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming, one of the industry's longest-established casino operators.
"It's good management. They've run the property very well," said Norton, who was a Resorts International executive when AyCee's first legal casino opened in May 1978. "But that has a lot to do with being part of Boyd Gaming and having a history behind it. I think you have to give credit to that background."
Contact Chuck Darrow at email@example.com or 215-313-3134. Follow him on Twitter @chuckdarrow. Read his blog at philly.com/Casinotes.