Pennsylvania takes bite from AC

Feb 20, 2007 3:01 AM

The advent of slot machines in Pennsylvania is taking its toll on Atlantic City’s casino business.

January’s revenue figures for the Atlantic City market show that two new slot parlors in the Philadelphia area are already cutting into casino winnings, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

Casinos’ gaming revenue fell 2.9 percent overall to $394.5 million and slot winnings slumped 7.2 percent to $271.8 million, according to figures released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

The chief executive of Donald Trump’s three casinos blamed Pennsylvania for the revenue decline. "In January, we felt the first effect, I think, of both Philadelphia Park as well as the Chester opening," said James B. Perry, president and chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc.

Speaking to gaming analysts during a conference call, Perry predicted some "short-term choppiness" in the market as the casinos adjust to their new competition in the Philadelphia area, only about a 90-minute drive from Atlantic City.

Philadelphia Park, in Bensalem Township about 20 miles north of downtown Philadelphia, has been open since Dec. 19 and took in $22.2 million in gross gaming revenue in January. Harrah’s slots parlor, which opened Jan. 22 in the depressed city of Chester, had nearly $8.6 million in gross gaming revenue in its first 10 days of operation, according to figures compiled by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Darlene Monzo, vice president of marketing for Philadelphia Park, said it appears Philadelphia-area customers are splitting their gambling trips between Bensalem and Atlantic City.

"I think customers who come here will continue to go to Atlantic City. But we are in a prime location. Customers who had to drive an hour and a half to go to Atlantic City only have to drive 20 minutes to get here," Monzo said.

George Miller, an Atlantic City attorney who heads a private investment group that co-owns the Chester slots parlor with Harrah’s, agreed that Pennsylvania’s nascent gambling market is already hurting Atlantic City.

"I think people are jumping in there instead of going to Atlantic City," Miller said. "I think it’s having an impact."

An estimated 20 percent to 25 percent of Atlantic City gamblers come from the Philadelphia area, the second-largest feeder market behind the New York and northern New Jersey region.