CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles

Gaming Guru

Joe Weinert
 

Atlantic City Roundup

9 June 2003

ATLANTIC CITY -- Atlantic City casinos broke out of their financial funk in May, when gross gaming revenue increased 8.3 percent compared with the same month last year.

The city's 11 casinos grossed a May-record $405.5 million, up $31.1 million over the year-earlier result, according to preliminary figures.

Northeast gamblers, evidently fed up with all the rain that had kept them home on the first three weekends, finally cried "enough" and sloshed down the highways and packed the casinos on a wet Memorial Day weekend and the following weekend.

Until the final two weekends, casino bosses had been grumbling that their three-month skid of revenue declines was likely to extend to a record four months.

"I think people were waiting and waiting for the weather to break and when they got to the last weekends, they said, 'We can't wait any longer. We're going any way,'" Sands President Tom Davis said.

Casinos also benefited from an extra Saturday compared with last year's May and from a higher hold at the table games. The casinos kept 16.4 percent of the money wagered compared to 15.7 percent a year earlier.

Bally's, which now includes the Claridge, led the revenue pack at $64.5 million, up 8.4 percent. Another Park Place Entertainment casino, Caesars, reported the biggest revenue gain, up 14 percent to $50 million.

Showboat, benefiting from a 544-room hotel addition that opened in May, reported a 13.9 percent revenue gain, to $36.2 million.

Sands snapped a 13-month streak of monthly revenue declines, posting a 2.7 percent gain to $18.1 million.

"My hope is that we double or triple this percentage next month," Davis said.

The industry's slot revenue for May was $304.3 million, up 8.6 percent. Table revenue grew 7.5 percent to $101.2 million.

0-0-0-0-0

The first face-to-face meeting between New Jersey Governor James McGreevey and casino executives over his proposed gaming-tax hikes turned a simmering feud into a nasty public fight.

McGreevey offered to cut the projected $135 million tax increase by a third, but didn't say which of three proposed gaming taxes would be affected.

"He started with $135 (million) and we're down to $90 (million). So he took one-third off. That's ridiculous," said Dennis Gomes, Casino Association of New Jersey president. Gomes did not attend the meeting.

"Where is the magic in the first number they came up with in the first place? It's strictly a wild-ass figure pulled out in the first place. It's as ridiculous a figure as the one they narrowed it down to," Gomes said.

McGreevey, angered by casino association radio ads attacking him, further entrenched himself on the issue.

"For the Atlantic City casino industry, which is enjoying a record-breaking year, to not be part of the solution is absurd," he said, referring to the state's $5 billion budget gap. "We are merely asking the casino industry to pay their fair share."

The State Democratic Committee, meanwhile, said it will ask the Casino Control Commission to issue a cease-and-desist order against the casino association for airing the radio ads. It claims the ads violate a law that bars casino officials from making campaign contributions.

But Acting Attorney General Peter Harvey said the ads appear to be in good standing.

"The casino association, like everybody else, has the right to comment on matters of public concern. They have a First Amendment right to do that. ... There does come a point where issue commentary could cross the line. Where that line is, we don't know. There is not a body of law developed in that area that tells us where the line is," Harvey said.

Those meeting the governor early last week were top casino lawyers Nicholas Amato of Resorts, Bernie DeLury of Park Place Entertainment and Joseph Fusco of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts.

0-0-0-0-0

Park Place Entertainment is now giving its Atlantic City customers what it gave its Las Vegas customers 17 months earlier: a unified frequent-gambler card.

The company's three Atlantic City casinos -- Bally's, Caesars, Hilton --- now take the Connection Card, in which gamblers can earn and redeem points among the three properties.

0-0-0-0-0

Atlantic City casino bosses this week will be keeping a close eye on neighboring Pennsylvania, where a vote is expected on some form of legalized gambling.

The state was expected by now to have heeded Governor Ed Rendell's plea for racetrack slots, but legislators are expected to consider a number of other proposals.

They include auctioning slot licenses, selling slot licenses, allowing riverboat casinos or creating more racetracks to accommodate more slots.

(Joe Weinert covers the gaming industry for The Press of Atlantic City. He can be reached at jweinert@pressofac.com.)