arrah’s Resort was the only casino that had higher revenue for the month, according to figures released last week by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. Slot winnings declined 5 % to us$ 207.3 million, while revenue from table games fell 6.8 % to us$ 93.5 million.
Don Marrandino, president of the Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat casinos owned by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., said the market is starting to show signs of life after struggling for months. “I feel pretty darn good,” he said. “I think we’re turning the corner here.”
However, for the first three months this year, casino revenue is off 9.9 %, to us$ 856.5 million. If downward trends continue, this will be the fourth straight year that revenue has declined. The last time Atlantic City posted higher monthly revenue was August 2008. Prior to March’s results, revenue had slipped by double-digit margins in three of the last four months. “I think that when we’re still in a period of decline, it’s too early to say we’re having any turnaround,” said casino analyst Cory H. Morowitz, chairman of Morowitz Gaming Advisors LLC.
Morowitz and Marrandino said March’s drenching rain hurt business. In February, the casinos struggled with record snowfall that kept gamblers away, pushing down revenue in that month by 15.7 %. “I think there has been some impact from the weather in the first quarter,” Morowitz said. “Anytime there is rain or snow, people will not travel to Atlantic City. They will stay closer to home.”
Marrandino said the gaming industry might have had higher revenue in March if not for the heavy rainstorms. “Obviously, that hurt us, the Boardwalk and everything else,” he said. “I’ll take rain over snow any day, but it didn’t help.”
Marrandino said he was encouraged with the results of the four Harrah’s Entertainment casinos. The flagship Harrah’s Resort was up 4.9 % to us$ 38.9 million, while revenue declines at Bally’s, Caesars and Showboat all were below the industry average.
Stronger business for hotel rooms, entertainment and food and beverage helped the Harrah’s properties. Marrandino noted that the average room rate for Harrah’s hotel bookings was up 11 % compared to March 2009. Revenue at Tropicana Casino and Resort dipped only 0.9 % for the month. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, the top-grossing property, pulled in us$ 52.3 million in revenue, down 1.6 %.
Trump Taj Mahal, the flagship of the three Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. gaming halls, was the market’s worst performer, suffering a 21.6 % revenue decline. Resorts Atlantic City, down 13.9 %, and the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, off 11.2 %, were the only other properties hit with double-digit declines in March revenue.