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Atlantic City Round-Up

28 January 2002

by Joe Weinert

ATLANTIC CITY – New Jersey – Jan. 28, 2002 -- It's no secret why the growth in Atlantic City casino revenue has struggled to keep pace with the inflation rates since the mid-90s. A look at financial results to the northeast and west says it all: The two Connecticut Indian casinos reported a 7.1 percent gain in slot-machine revenue last year while the three Delaware racetracks reported an 8.6 gain in slot revenue.

Gross gaming revenue in Atlantic City, meanwhile, grew only 0.05 percent last year.

Delaware Park, the biggest of the state's three so-called racinos, even beat the total gaming revenue of three Atlantic City casinos and the slot revenue of six Atlantic City casinos. Delaware Park, which draws from the Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., markets, reported slot revenue last year of $263.1 million, up 7.2 percent.

Further south in Delaware, slot revenue increased 7.2 percent, to $168.4 million, at Dover Downs, and 15.1 percent, to $95.1 million, at Harrington Raceway.

In Connecticut, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun reported year-end slot revenue of $1.4 billion, up 7.1 percent. They do not publicly report their table-games revenue, which analysts estimate accounts for 23 percent of their total gaming revenue.

Foxwoods' slot revenue increased 3.1 percent, to $783.3 million, while Mohegan Sun's rose 7.1 percent to $618.3 million.

Mohegan Sun, which opened an enormous casino expansion in September, should surpass Foxwoods in revenue this year as a result of its 1,200-room hotel scheduled to open in April.

*****

Members of Atlantic City's dominant labor union, Local 54 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, narrowly re-elected Bob McDevitt for a third term as president.

In balloting that two of his opponents will challenge, McDevitt defeated Bally's bartender Frank Viering by 33 votes, 1,643-1,610. The outcome is pending certification by the U.S. Department of Labor.

A federal judge ordered the election after finding irregularities during the June 1999 election.

Local 54 represents nearly 14,000 Atlantic City casino employees.

*****

It looks like Park Place Entertainment might be getting a neighbor in New York's Catskill Mountains.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohegan Indians agreed to a deal that will pay host Sullivan County, N.Y., $15 million annually to help offset the impact of the tribe's proposed casino in Bridgeville.

The Stockbridge-Munsees and partner Trading Cove Associates are planning $600 million casino hotel on 333 acres about 85 miles from New York City. Trading Cove, half-owned by Sol Kerzner's Sun International Hotels Ltd., also developed the hugely successful Mohegan Sun tribal casino in Uncasville, N.Y.

Park Place and the St. Regis Mohawks reached a similar deal with Sullivan County in November. They're planning a $500 million casino hotel.

Park Place and Trading Cove are trying to secure two of the three Catskills casinos designated in a gambling-expansion bill signed into law in October by Gov. George Pataki. Both projects need federal and state approvals.

*****

Atlantic County, home to Atlantic City, led New Jersey in traffic deaths last year, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Officials blamed many of fatal accidents, which claimed 68 lives, on casino traffic.

"These roadways were not built to sustain the 34 million people who come into Atlantic City every year. We need more state police and local patrol units," Michael Schurman, director of highway safety for Atlantic County, told the Associated Press.

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

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