Atlantic City sets win record

Jan 16, 2007 6:10 AM

New Jersey’s casino industry extended its winning streak to 29 years in 2006 as it won a record $5.2 billion from gamblers.

The industry has set a winnings record each year since the first casino opened its doors in 1978.

The 2006 winnings were 4 percent higher than the 2005 winnings of $5 billion, and they came in a year when the generally booming industry had a few moments that looked like setbacks.

In July, for instance, all the casinos were shuttered for three days during a state budget impasse.

In November, the Sands, the smallest and one of the most venerable casinos in the city closed its doors to make way for a newer, bigger and more upscale gambling hall — part of a trend that has been the story of the industry this decade.

Neither of those issues slowed casinos much. July was the third-biggest win month in the city’s gambling history, right behind August. July 2005 was the best month ever, with $504.8 million in winnings.

And winnings were higher in November 2006 than they were in that month in 2005, despite the Sands closing mid-month.

Ten of the 12 gambling halls that were open at some point in 2006 made more money than the previous year. The Sands fell short and so did Trump Plaza, where winnings declined by less than 1 percent, falling to $300.9 million from $303.5 million.

The city’s newest casino, The Borgata, which opened in 2003, remained the biggest winner. It brought in $739.2 million in winnings, ahead of Bally’s Atlantic City, which was second with $677.3 million. Bally’s is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.

An 8 percent tax on casino revenues brought the state $417.5 million for the year. That money goes to support programs for New Jersey’s senior citizens and disabled people.