"There's no magic number," said David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "It depends what they do," said Schwartz, referring to efforts by Atlantic City's casinos to be more competitive.
The closures of Showboat on Sunday, Revel on Tuesday, and Trump Plaza on Sept. 16 will remove nearly 6,000 slot machines from Atlantic City, or a quarter of the total that remained on July 31, according to data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which on Friday approved the Trump closure.
In the seven months that ended on July 31, the three casinos had $158.1 million in slots revenue, or just 14 percent of the total slots revenue in Atlantic City. The mismatch between 25 percent of the machines and 14 percent of the revenue shows how weak those three casinos were.
A key test for the remaining eight casinos will be how much of the revenue they keep from their defunct competitors. Borgata, Resorts, and Tropicana have billboards along the Atlantic City Expressway heading into the city offering deals to gamblers who have to find a new home.
Fitch, the ratings agency, estimated last week that half of Revel's casino revenue will be retained by other casinos in the city. Higher percentages of revenue from Trump Plaza (60 percent) and Showboat (75 percent) are expected to remain in Atlantic City because their parent companies have other casinos there.
A half-dozen Showboat guests interviewed Sunday as they checked out said they would shift their Atlantic City visits to other properties owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Fitch said it does not expect more closures in the next two years, as the remaining casinos benefit from a reduced number of competitors.
Atlantic City visits could also become more expensive for gamblers.
Janet Jenkins, a New York resident who is a regular visitor to Trump Plaza, said Monday during a visit there that she's worried that the big reduction in the number of hotel rooms means that free rooms will become scarce.
While Fitch was optimistic about the Atlantic City market settling down over the next two years, Mark Peters, a 34-year veteran of the Atlantic City casino industry and most recently a dealer at Revel, said Monday afternoon that he expected more shakeout from the spread of casinos throughout the Northeast.
Pennsylvania alone has added 26,400 slot machines since Atlantic City peaked in 2006, not to mention thousands more at casinos in New York and Maryland.
Peters, 52, guessed there might eventually be five casinos in Atlantic City, "but good ones."