In reality, ACFX held three events. Then it announced through a series of Facebook posts that the convention was ending after just three weeks.
What was meant to be a summer-long bonanza for cosplay, e-gamers, and more ended up being one of the few disappointments Atlantic City has endured in a season of aggressive growth.
Not much clarity on why the event closed
Attendees and those hoping ACFX would play well with millennials were hit with the bad news in late June, just a few weeks after the event launched.
As several websites have pointed out, ACFX’s explanation for its cancellation amounted to a pair of cryptic Facebook announcements. Here is one of those messages:
“Folks, we love Atlantic City and we love the amazing Jersey Shore. We are on hold. As soon as we can, we will let you know what is going on.”
While the natural assumption is that money issues plagued the event, the expo provided no indication that was the case.
While the closure came as a shock, there was a bit of good news in the announcement. ACFX will refund any advance ticket purchases for cancelled weekends. Those who bought season passes will receive partial refunds.
Experts see failed attempt to woo millennials to Atlantic City
Recent studies have shown millennials don’t have the same gambling preferences as previous generations. They generally don’t have a desire to sit in front of a chance-based slot machine, load up credits, and sip cocktails while the odds have their way. This demographic is far more likely to visit a NJ gambling site online.
ACFX was perhaps the biggest effort to date to show millennials Atlantic City’s willingness to reach a middle ground.
Smaller efforts have also taken place in the form of video game gambling machines. Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana have all featured these skill-based games at one time or another during the past year.
These VGMs combine round-by-round betting and live, competitive gameplay. Danger Arena, the first VGM to debut in Atlantic City – and in the US – involves 45- or 60-second rounds in which the goal is to shoot more aliens than a competitor. The highest score yields the biggest payday.
ACFX’s closure isn’t apocalyptic in the sense that no NJ casino will ever try something so aggressive again. While it failed to meet its 15-weekend goal, it was a milestone in the sense that, aside from a few millennial-focused casino renovations, it represented the city’s most robust effort to turn the generational tide.
Showboat’s willingness to experiment should be a learning experience for its owners and others in Atlantic City. It will be interesting to see how the ACFX test case is used to refine future, similar events.