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Hurricane Irene Damages Atlantic City Casino Revenues
 
  by: Rebel - Havertown, PA
started: 09/11/11 5:27 pm | updated: 09/11/11 5:27 pm
 
Hurricane Irene caused minimal structural damage to Atlantic City's casinos. But its revenue numbers have taken a huge hit dropping 19.8 percent, or $59.6 million from August last year.

Other factors adding to the hurricane-forced closure of the casinos include a weak economy and fierce competition from Pennsylvania casinos, which remained open during the hurricane.

By comparison, Pennsylvania's 10 casinos (with the exception of SugarHouse, which has not been open for a year) grew 1.3 percent year-over-year in slot-machine revenue, to $199.2 million.

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The August drop compares with what the Atlantic City casinos lost - nearly $55 million - during a three-day state government shutdown in July 2006, which forced casino inspectors to go home.

Last month, the A.C. gambling halls collectively shuttered by 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26, in advance of Irene. That included the Borgata, which had a blackjack tournament and three major concerts (Frankie Valli, Donny Osmond, and Lynyrd Skynyrd) planned for the weekend.

"Although difficult to quantify, Hurricane Irene effectively wiped out a whole weekend in what is traditionally one of the industry's two busiest months of the year," said Joseph Weinert of Spectrum Gaming Group L.L.C. of Linwood, N.J.

"We believe that Irene at least doubled the gaming-revenue decline that the casinos otherwise would have experienced."

Revenue declines ranged from 8.0 percent at Tropicana to $26.5 million, to 35.5 percent at Trump Taj Mahal, to about $26 million. Market-leading Borgata had $54.5 million, but that was down 9.9 percent from a year ago.

"If not for the hurricane, we would have shown growth for the month," said Tropicana president and CEO Tony Rodio, who said his casino was down $2.3 million in revenue for the month and lost nearly $4 million because of Irene.

"Even though we lost a weekend . . . we still grew our table-games business pretty significantly," which was up 21.6 percent, he said.

Revenue at the former Trump Marina, now the Golden Nugget, fell $1.8 million, with 10 percent of that blamed on Irene, said Landry's Inc. CFO Rick Liem.

Slot-machine revenue at Atlantic City's casinos fell nearly 21 percent, to $193.7 million, while revenue from table games, such as poker and blackjack, decreased by 17 percent, to $85.1 million.

By comparison, Pennsylvania's 10 casinos (with the exception of SugarHouse, which has not been open for a year) grew 1.3 percent year-over-year in slot-machine revenue, to $199.2 million.

Still, Irene hurt the state's eastern half, which contains all but three casinos. For the week ended Aug. 28, slot-machine revenue across Pennsylvania's eastern casinos fell 13.4 percent year-over-year.
 
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