Atlantic City's plummeting gambling revenue

WAYNE PARRY
Last updated 10:53 16/01/2014

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Atlantic City's casino revenue fell below US$3 billion ($3.6 billion) last year for the first time in 22 years, as increasing competition in the northeastern US continued to shrink the market.

Figures released on Tuesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement showed the city's casinos won US$2.86b in 2013, down from just over US$3b in 2012.

It marked the seventh straight year of plunging gambling revenue for Atlantic City, which won US$5.2b in 2006. That was the year the first of what would become 12 Pennsylvania casinos opened, cutting deeply into a market the New Jersey resort town once called its own.

The casino saturation claimed its first New Jersey victim on Monday when the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel shut down, leaving Atlantic City with 11 casinos.

"Obviously it's disappointing to see another year where it's a decline," said Tony Rodio, president of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, and head of the Casino Association of New Jersey.

"But hopefully with the addition of Internet gambling, I think you're going to see an increase in 2014."

The revenue figures showed the state's fledgling internet gambling industry being dominated by two main players: the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, and Caesars Interactive, which together won US$6.1m of the US$8.4m that was taken in by the New Jersey internet gambling sites over the final five weeks of 2013.

The Borgata, with its Party Poker online brand, took in more than US$3.7m in online gambling revenue since internet betting began in New Jersey on November 21.

Caesars Interactive, which runs sites including the WSOP and 888 brands, won nearly US$2.4m online from late November through the end of the year.

Other competitors lagged badly in the online market. The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and its ucasino brand, won US$883,000.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort won US$748,000; Trump Plaza Hotel Casino and its Betfair online brand won US$427,000, and the Golden Nugget, whose launch was delayed for weeks by technical problems, won US$179,000.

Revel Casino Hotel posted the biggest annual revenue gain, at nearly 27 per cent to US$155 million, but that was mainly because it did so poorly a year earlier.

The Atlantic Club, which shut down on Monday, had the second-biggest percentage increase in 2013. It was up 11.6 per cent to nearly US$142m.

But that was not enough to keep it from a bankruptcy filing that led to its purchase by two rivals, Tropicana and Caesars, who shut it down and split up its assets.

The Borgata was up less than 1 per cent to US$616m, but that was almost twice as much as its nearest competitor, Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, took in. Harrah's was down nearly 11 per cent.

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Resorts Casino Hotel was virtually unchanged for the year at just under US$131m.

Trump Plaza had the biggest decline, down nearly 28 per cent, to just US$74m for the year.

For the month of December 2013, the casinos took in nearly US$222m, including internet revenue. That was down from the US$223.5m they won in December 2012, before internet gambling was permitted.

- AP

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