A.C. casinos suffer declines in June

Posted: July 11, 2007

ATLANTIC CITY - June was less than stellar for six of Atlantic City's 11 casinos, as competition from nearby slots parlors continued to erode their revenue.

Overall, Atlantic City casinos reported $419.8 million in casino win, or the amount that gamblers lose, a 1.9 percent decrease from a year ago.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission released the June figures yesterday, the same day the United Auto Workers said it would try to organize dealers at the Tropicana Casino & Resort.

The 2006 figures included the take at the Sands Casino Hotel, which closed in November. Absent the Sands' revenue, the 2007 overall take was slightly higher than in 2006, though the casinos' win at slot machines declined.

"A significant number of gamblers have found a more convenient place to play slot machines, principally in the Philadelphia area, but also in the Poconos and the metropolitan New York City area," said Joseph Weinert, senior vice president at Spectrum Gaming Group L.L.C., which tracks the $5.2 billion Atlantic City gambling industry.

Weinert said those places combined added more than 11,000 slot machines within Atlantic City's inner and outer markets. The five slots parlors in Pennsylvania alone took in nearly $91 million from wagers.

Besides tightening profit margins because of increased slots competition and casino smoking restrictions that took effect here in mid-April, Atlantic City is facing other pressures. Its 8,000-dealer workforce is in the midst of a unionization drive.

The UAW confirmed yesterday that it would file a petition today with the National Labor Relations Board in Philadelphia for an election date for about 1,000 dealers at the Tropicana.

Dealers at three other casinos - Caesars, Trump Plaza and Bally's - voted to join the UAW earlier this year. The UAW narrowly lost elections at the Trump Marina and Atlantic City Hilton casinos in May.

The Tropicana, where more than 900 employees have been laid off this year after Columbia-Sussex Corp., of Fort Mitchell, Ky., took over the property, had a 5.5 percent decline in total revenue.

Of last month's total casino win, 72.2 percent, or $303 million, came from slot machines - reflecting the resort's still heavy dependency on slots despite its massive buildup of nongambling attractions. The remainder, 27.8 percent, came from table games.

Caesars topped the 11 casinos here in revenue increases at 22 percent, propelled by a 46.9 percent boost in revenue from table games.

The biggest loser was Trump Plaza, with a 13.9 percent decrease. The casino's table-games revenue declined 21.7 percent, more than double its 10.2 percent dip at the slot machines.

Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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