We remain optimistic about operating in Atlantic City and are very proud of the Borgata," said Keith Smith, CEO of Boyd Gaming, which continues to own half the casino. "Over the last five years, we've continued to improve the product and deliver a great experience, and we'll continue to build on that over the next five years and maintain our Number 1 position in the market."
The commission forced MGM Resorts International in March to put its 50 % ownership stake in the Borgata up for sale after MGM Resorts refused to cut ties with the family of an Asian casino magnate long suspected of having ties to organized crime. MGM Resorts and the Ho family are partners in a casino in the Chinese enclave of Macau.
Since it opened in 2003, the Borgata has dominated the Atlantic City market. It was designed to bring Las Vegas-style glitz and glamor to New Jersey. "Through an unprecedented economic downturn and increased regional competition, Borgata has continued to demonstrate its ability to remain a strong competitor in Atlantic City," said commission chairwoman Linda Kassekert.
She also said New Jersey regulators were satisfied by MGM's decision to walk away from the Borgata and place its 50 % ownership stake in a conservatorship, headed by a retired state Supreme Court chief justice.
Gordon Absher, a spokesman for MGM Resorts, which recently changed its name from MGM Mirage, said the process of seeking a buyer is progressing well. "There's a high level of interest in our share of this market-leading asset," he said, declining further comment. Boyd has the right of first refusal on any deal MGM Resorts proposes.
The commission found that the Borgata is financially stable and heard evidence from company officials on how it continues to lead the Atlantic City market. For example, the Borgata has 17 % of the city's table games but produces 20.4 % of the city's table-game revenue. It also accounts for 34 % of Atlantic City's casino food and beverage revenues.
The Borgata's revenue topped us$ 695 million in 2009. That was down 5.9 % from 2008 but was more than any of the 10 other casinos in Atlantic City took in. Through last month, the Borgata has taken in nearly us$ 270 million in 2010, down 5.7 % from the same period last year. Gambling revenue citywide is down 7.9 % for the period.