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Joe Weinert

Atlantic City Roundup

14 July 2003

Most Atlantic City casinos, perhaps trying to pass increased gaming taxes along to customers, are charging more than the $3 state parking fee in their garages.

Five casinos have posted a standard parking fee of $5, which is reduced to $3 if the motorist flashes the casino's player card. The three Trump casinos are charging $4 for everybody.

Borgata, Harrah's, Sands and Showboat are charging the $3 minimum for everybody.

"It is a decision we did not wish to make, but it was forced upon us by the action of Gov. (James) McGreevey in securing the approval of legislation imposing $90 million in new state taxes on the casino industry," Resorts President Audrey Oswell said in a letter to motorists posted on the casino's garage toll booth.

No chief executive of a casino charging more than the $3 fee would comment.

"That's not a business philosphy we're going to follow," said Dave Jonas, senior vice president of Atlantic City operations for Harrah's Entertainment, which owns Harrah's and Showboat. "I'm not putting anybody down for it. Everybody has to do what they think is best.

"We're not looking to gouge our customers," Jonas continued. "We need to pass on the tax. We're making that pretty clear to our customers."

Some casinos are charging $10 or $20 for non-cardholders to park during peak period.

Borgata, meanwhile, has free parking for customers using its 800-space surface lot -- but not by design. The casino, which opened July 2, has yet to install operating gates on the lot and will begin charging the $3 fee when it's completed by the end of July.

Still, Borgata is required to pay the state $3 for every customer car parked in the lot.

"For purposes of payment of the parking tax, we are estimating the number of customers who are parking in this lot," said Peter Finamore, Borgata vice president of hospitality.

"Recognizing that this is not an exact number of customers who have actually parked there, we intend to add on to any estimate of customer vehicles parked an appropriate factor that will insure that we are adequately paying the taxes that we owe. This factor will be established at a level that will result in our over paying the parking tax," he said.


Taking a page from its parent company, Borgata will sponsor a major air show in Atlantic City next month.

The first-year show will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Golden Knights and other military aircraft and demonstrations along the famed Atlantic Ocean beach.

Borgata is coordinating and funding the show, with help from Coca-Cola, even though it will take place away from Borgata and in front of nine other Boardwalk casinos.

"Borgata's attitude, and Boyd Gaming's, is that what's good for Atlantic City is what's good for our property. A rising tide lifts all boats," said Dan Clark, Boyd's director of marketing.

Boyd is a major sponsor of Aviation Nation 2003, which takes place in November at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

The Borgata air show, titled "Atlatnic City Salutes the 100th Anniversary of Powered Flight," commemorates the Wright brothers famous flight a century ago.


Gordon Group Holdings, which helped develop the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, now says its planned retail pier project in Atlantic City won't open until summer 2005.

President Scott Gordon said his company has scrapped the Monopoly theme for another concept that will be announced after Labor Day.

One year ago, officials from Gordon Group and pier owner Park Place Entertainment joined New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey on the beach in announcing that the Shops on Ocean One pier at Caesars would be closed and transformed into a Monopoly-themed retail, dining and entertainment attraction by spring 2004.

Gordon said engineering tests and environmental regulations caused the delay.

"I don't have any doubts they're going forward. They've got commitments from a number of key players to go in there," said Park Place spokesman Robert Stewart.


Slot-machine revenue at Atlantic City's closest competitor, the racetrack slots in neighboring Delaware, declined 10.8 percent to $50.1 million for the five-week June reporting period.

It was the seventh straight month of revenue declines since the state enacted an indoor smoking ban in late November.

(Joe Weinert covers the gaming industry for The Press of Atlantic City. He can be reached at