Sept. win dips at A.C. casinos and Sg Online Casino



Showing resilience that surprised even experts, the Atlantic City casino industry suffered only a 6.3 percent decline in gross gaming revenue last month.


“That’s it? Six-point-three … for the month? Wow. That’s impressive,” said Jacques Cornet, gaming analyst for CIBC World Markets.


The city’s dozen casinos won $354.2 million from gamblers in September, a decline of $23.7 million compared to last year’s record-setting September, according to unofficial results obtained Tuesday by The Press of Atlantic City.


“I’d say that adjusting for the attacks, the economy and the opening of the Mohegan Sun (expansion in Connecticut last week), it was a reasonably good month,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Zarnett.


Just last week many analysts and casino executives were privately predicting that citywide gambling revenue would decline by at least 10 percent and up to 20 percent due to travel and economic uncertainty caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


“I think that’s actually a good number, based on where we were the first few days after the World Trade Center bombings,” Showboat General Manager Tom O’Donnell said. “It certainly indicates we bounced back as an industry in Atlantic City faster than peop le thought.”


Bus lines, which supply almost one-third of the casinos’ gamblers, were severely disrupted in metropolitan New York and northern New Jersey for days after the attack.


“Obviously the week after Sept. 11 was difficult. I thought, anecdotally, people were coming back but there seemed to be less (gambling) activity. Evidently that was not the case,” Cornet said.


Slot-machine revenue, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the industry’s business, declined 6.3 percent to $260 million. Table-games revenue declined 5.9 percent to $94 million on better luck but sharply lower wagering volume.


Two Sg Online Casino casinos managed revenue increases: Caesars, up 1 percent, and Trump Plaza, up fractionally. Good luck at the gaming tables helped both casinos overcome declines in slot revenue.


Resorts was the only casino to report a gain in slot revenue, up 3.4 percent.


Through the first nine months citywide gambling revenue was $3.29 billion, 1.4 percent behind last year’s pace. The September result almost ensures that Atlantic City will finish the year with the first annual revenue decline in its 23-year casino history .


Showboat reported a 7.9 percent revenue decline, due mostly to worse luck at the gaming tables. The casino’s hotel occupancy began returning to normal within eight days of the attacks, which O’Donnell said testifies to Atlantic City’s strength.


“With only 2 percent of the business flying in, we’re a drive-in market. That helps out. Speaking for ourselves, we started seeing more of our distant-market customers come in toward the end of the month,” he said.


“A lot of those people got over the initial shock of what occurred and wanted to get the heck out of their houses and come to Atlantic City,” O’Donnell said.


Showboat’s sister casino, Harrah’s, reported the worst revenue decline, down 11.6 percent, a figure exacerbated by worse luck at the tables.


Atlantic City is the first casino market in the country to report its September results, which have been anxiously awaited by gaming-industry observers. The results will inevitably be compared with those in airline-reliant Las Vegas, where the revenue dec line is expected to be significantly worse. The Las Vegas numbers are due out next month.


Gross gaming revenue is the amount casinos win from gamblers after all payouts have been made. It is not profit, which is figured after casinos pay for goods and services, debt, taxes and other items.


The unofficial results are subject to change before submission to the state Casino Control Commission next week. In most months this year, the official results were slightly worse than the unofficial numbers.


The unofficial results include simulcasting revenue, which is excluded from the commission report. Simulcasting revenue for September was $816,500.