The Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey was issued a $25,000 fine by the Canadian Transportation Agency. The CTA argues that the Borgata was running an unlicensed airline in an effort to chauffer high-stakes gamblers from Toronto and Montreal to Atlantic City, but without a valid Canadian airline license.
The Borgata was remade as a Las Vegas style casino resort in an effort to attract younger gamblers to Atlantic City, and remains New Jersey’s most profitable casino. One allure was to provide complimentary flights for previous visitors who gambled a significant amount of money at the casino.
Unlike many places in the US where gambling remains frowned upon, Canada recognizes that gambling is an economic stimulant. Canadians are willing to wager larger bets, and the Borgata recognized attracting more Canadian clientele was good for business. As a result, Borgata representatives contacted high-stakes Canadian gamblers with offers to shuttle players from their homes to the casino via private jet.
However, the CTA tracked the casino’s private planes, and issued the fine for operating an unlicensed airline in Canadian airspace. The Borgata appealed the fine with the Federal Court of Appeal, which agreed with the CTA that a fine was warranted, though the amount was reduced by half. The Borgata intends to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada as the casino feels it is just practicing good business.
Steven Norton, a casino consultant who previously worked in the casino resort business, says casinos all over the world, including in Las Vegas, fly in VIP clients. Norton believes the last few years were especially hard on Atlantic City casinos, and the Borgata is simply doing what it must to bring in “well-heeled gamblers.”
“They are going out to find new business and the wealthy markets of Toronto and Montreal are enviable markets.”
The Borgata has to date, refused to discuss the case publicly.