Atlantic City casinos beat the odds in August

Sep 16, 2008 7:01 PM

Staff & Wire Reports | After nearly a year of bad news, casinos in Atlantic City got a boost as gaming revenues showed a slight increase in August.

The city’s 11 casinos last week reported revenues increased 0.7 percent to $468.3 million, compared with August 2007, according to New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission.

It was only the third time this year that casinos reported an increase in monthly gaming win.

For the year to date, total casino revenue has fallen about 5.2 percent. If the trend continues, 2007 will be the first year in Atlantic City that gaming revenues were less than the previous year.

Since 2007, the city’s casinos have been impacted by competition from neighboring states, notably Pennsylvania, as well as the slowing economy and high gas prices.

Five of the 11 casinos posted revenue increases, with Harrah’s leading the way with a 19.1 percent gain in revenue and Borgata notching a 10.3 percent increase.

At the other end of the spectrum, revenues plunged 21.6 percent at the Hilton, 12.3 percent at Resorts and 11 percent at Trump Marina.

Industry experts expect the modest gains in August will be short-lived.

"My sense is that September will show the real numbers again, and once again will show a trend downward," Carlos Tolosa, eastern division president of Harrah’s Entertainment, told the Star-Ledger.

Tolosa cited a full smoking ban, scheduled to take effect in October, as another deterrent to casino visitation.

Some analysts have predicted revenue declines of 15 percent to 20 percent once the smoking ban takes effect, but Tolosa said it would be closer to 5 percent.