The ACES train system was conceived as a way to bring gamblers from New York to Atlantic City. At a time when the economic recession was keeping customers away from AC casinos, the ACES plan was devised with the hope it would revive the struggling gaming industry. On Friday, the ACES system was officially ended by the three casinos that operate the trains.
The system turned out in the end to cost too much money to operate, and the casinos were not seeing a return on their investment in terms of major increases in customers from New York City.”We learned a lot about trains over the last three years,” said Caesars Atlantic City Spokeswoman Katie Dougherty. “It was an issue of tunnel time and track time and being able to provide a convenient schedule for riders. It just didn’t work out.”One of the reasons officials from Caesar’s, Harrah’s, and the Borgata decided to end the rail system was an increase in gaming options in New York.
At the time that ACES was formed, New York had minimal gaming options. In the past couple of years, the Aqueduct casino that had been in the works for over a decade, finally came to fruition. New York lawmakers are also in the process of adding several other casinos in the state.”The timing was just bad for this system to operate,” said Gaming Analyst Steve Schwartz. “Nobody could have predicted the casino boom in the Northeast after the recession, but once the boom occurred, it became evident that gamblers would not choose a train ride to Atlantic City over casinos in their own backyards.”When the ACES train system started operation in 2009, it was somewhat popular, with gamblers wanting to see the advantages of using such a system to get to Atlantic City.
Over the past couple of years, ridership has steadily decreased. The three casinos invested over $20 million into the train system, but figures are not available as to how much they actually lost in the investment. Atlantic City casinos have been searching for ways to bring gamblers back since the recession.
Recent expansion in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and future expansion in Massachusetts are all expected to keep Atlantic City from ever again owning the monopoly on the gaming industry that it held in the Northeast for several decades.