In April, we felt really good about the way things were going," said Don Marrandino, eastern division president of Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which operates four of the casinos. "We're clearly disappointed. May was just not a good month. Everyone's feeling the same pain."
The poor performance came despite a Memorial Day weekend in which casinos were packed, but the holiday weekend revenue was not enough to offset a lackluster rest of the month. Atlantic City is mired in a 3 1/2-year revenue slump that started when the first slots parlors opened outside Philadelphia in late 2006. There are now nine.
The casinos took in us$ 319.7 million in May. Of that, us$ 225.6 million came from slots, a decline of 8.5 %, and us$ 94 million at table games, down 10.2 %. All 11 casinos reported revenue declines in May, ranging from nearly 21 % at the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, to nearly 5 % at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
Resorts Atlantic City, which is still seeking a buyer after handing over the keys to its lenders in December, was down 12.8 %; Caesars Atlantic City was down 11.5 %; and the perpetually-for-sale Trump Marina Hotel Casino was down 10.9 %.
The Tropicana Casino and Resort was down 9.5 %, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort was down 9.3 %, and Harrah's Resort Atlantic City was down 8.9 %. Bally's Atlantic City was down 7.7 %, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was down 6.8 % and the Showboat Casino Hotel was down 6.7 %.
So far this year, the casinos have won us$ 1.49 billion, down 7.9 % from the same period in 2009. And the hard times aren't expected to get better anytime soon. Next month, Pennsylvania slots parlors are expected to begin offering table games, and competing more directly than ever with Atlantic City.
Marrandino said Atlantic City now needs to tout its non-gambling amenities like restaurants, hotels and spas more than ever. "The gaming numbers have always been the bellwether about what this market is all about; that's changing now," he said.