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Slump far from over in Atlantic City

June 10, 2009 6:09:06 PM PDT
With nascent signs of improvement in the national economy starting to appear, Atlantic City's 11 casinos hoped their two-and-a-half year slump would ease as well. It didn't.

Revenue from May at the 11 casinos was down 15.4 percent from a year ago.

That doesn't match the record-breaking plunges recorded in February and March, which approached 20 percent, but it's clearly not the improvement the gambling halls had been looking for.

The casinos took in $351.3 million in May, down from $415.3 million in May 2008Slot machines accounted for $246.6 million, down 14.9 percent, while table games brought in $104.7 million, down 16.7 percent.

Even a five weekend month couldn't help the casinos emerge from their fiscal doldrums. Those months usually boost casino revenue with weekends being the busiest and most profitable times. But most of the May weekends were rainy, dissuading people from traveling to Atlantic City.

Atlantic City is in the third year of a revenue decline that started soon after the first of many out-of-state slots parlors opened outside Philadelphia in November 2006.

Competition from racetrack slots in Pennsylvania and New York is draining loyal customers who now can play closer to home.

Every casino in the city reported a decline last month and four posted plunges of more than 20 percent. The biggest declines were at two of the resort's most struggling casinos, the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, down 29.5 percent, and its sister property, Resorts Atlantic City, down 28.7 percent.

Trump Marina Hotel Casino, which was to be sold to a former protege of Donald Trump before the deal fell apart last month, was down 24.5 percent. Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was down 20.3 percent.

All three Trump casinos are operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, including the flagship Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, which was down 13.9 percent.

The Showboat Casino Hotel was down 19 percent; Bally's Atlantic City was down 18.3 percent, and the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which is awaiting bankruptcy court approval of a new owners group including billionaire Carl Icahn, was down 17.4 percent.

Caesars Atlantic City was down 13.7 percent, Harrah's Resort Atlantic City was down 8.2 percent, and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was down 3 percent.

For the first five months of this year, Atlantic City casino revenue is down 15.7 percent.


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