6/11/10 – Optimism that the worst of the recession which has so badly hammered Atlantic City land casinos may be over was tempered this week by another dismal set of performance statistics.
Atlantic City's 11 casinos saw revenues fall by 9 percent in May compared with a year ago, Associated Press reported this week. The numbers were disappointing for operators, who were heartened by April numbers that suggested a break even point had been reached.
"In April, we felt really good about the way things were going," Don Marrandino, eastern division president of Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which operates four of the casinos told AP reporters.
"We're clearly disappointed. May was just not a good month. Everyone's feeling the same pain."
The poor performance came despite a Memorial Day weekend in which casinos were packed, but the holiday weekend revenue was not enough to offset a weak performance over the rest of the month, compounding a three-and-a-half-year decline that started when the first slots parlours opened outside Philadelphia in late 2006. There are now nine.
Atlantic City casinos took in $319.7 million in May, with slots accounting for $225.6 million – down 8.5 percent. Table games brought in $94 million, down 10.2 percent.
All 11 casinos reported revenue declines in May, ranging from nearly 21 percent at the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, to nearly 5 percent at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
In the first half of 2010 Atlantic City Casinos have won $1.49 billion, down 7.9 percent from the same period in 2009. The Associated Press report points out that things could get even worse when the competing Pennsylvanian slot parlours start offering table games.
Online gambling could provide a partial solution for Atlantic City; New Jersey state legislators are currently considering intrastate laws that would allow land operators licensed by the state to offer internet gambling.