Revel casino has best month; overall A.C. market grows

Revel's picture has improved , but many had hoped the property, marketed as a destination resort, would boost Atlantic City's flagging fortunes. AKIRA SUWA / Staff
Revel's picture has improved , but many had hoped the property, marketed as a destination resort, would boost Atlantic City's flagging fortunes. AKIRA SUWA / Staff
Posted: September 12, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY - Revel, built with more than $300 million in aid from New Jersey, brought in $20 million in total casino revenue in August, its best month thus far, while the overall market here grew 12.6 percent from a year ago.

The $20 million that Revel made from slot machines and table games again ranked it eighth among the dozen casinos here, according to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, which released the revenue figures Monday.

Since its April 2 debut, Revel has placed eighth every month. It made $17.5 million in July, $14.9 million in June, $13.9 million in May, and $13.5 million in April. The revenue figures have been a source of concern for Wall Street gaming analysts, because the $2.4 billion casino had been projected to generate far more than that.

But there was good news for the Atlantic City gaming market, which grew to $313.9 million from $278.7 million in August 2011. The resort's main industry posted a 5.4 percent increase, not including Revel - the first such growth since December 2011.

That increase was mainly attributed to what didn't happen this year. Last year, Hurricane Irene forced the closure of all 11 casinos then operating from midday Saturday, Aug. 26, to midday Monday, Aug. 28. Last month also had one more weekend day than August 2011 did.

The market-leading Borgata finished first again last month, generating $55.3 million from slot machines and table games - more than doubling what Revel took in. Harrah's Resort and Caesars, both owned by Caesars Entertainment Inc., finished second and third, at $40.1 million and $38 million, respectively.

"Revel finally broke the $20 million mark, as its revenues increased 14.2 percent from the prior month," analyst John Kempf, of RBC Capital Markets L.L.C., said in a note to investors Monday.

Trailing Revel in total gaming revenue for August were the Atlantic Club ($14.8 million), Golden Nugget ($13.1 million), Resorts ($13.1 million), and Trump Plaza ($10.7 million).

Many had hoped the lavish 6.3 million-square-foot Revel, marketed as a destination resort, would boost Atlantic City's flagging fortunes and increase the gaming market here.

That hasn't happened. Analysts say Revel needs to generate $25 million to $30 million per month to pay off its operating expenses and debt service. Revel had a gross operating loss of $35 million, or $18 million excluding one-time preopening charges, for the second quarter, the Division of Gaming Enforcement said.

With monthly casino revenues way below forecasts, Revel asked lenders last month to double its credit line to $100 million to help get it through the final months of this year and most of 2013.

August is the final month of what is traditionally the Shore's peak season, before business gets significantly slower in fall and winter. Analysts have been looking for any signs of a turnaround for Revel.

Some customers have knocked it for a lack of moderately priced restaurants, for having no buffet (the other 11 casinos here do), and for being a 100 percent no-smoking casino (the others allow smoking on 25 percent of their gaming floors).

Last week, Gina Santaguida, 55, of South Philadelphia, stayed in Atlantic City with her husband, Domenic, but in rooms next door at the Showboat.

"I can see the building, it's unbelievable. Amazing. It's very Las Vegas," Santaguida, a title clerk, said as she walked past Revel on Friday in a polka-dot bikini, headed for the beach to meet her husband. "Pricing [for rooms] is probably the biggest issue and only issue.

"We hope to stay there next year. Hopefully, they will lower their prices."

Gov. Christie pumped more than $300 million in state aid into getting Revel built, including $261 million in state tax credits. The casino is a key component of a five-year overhaul plan put together by the Republican governor, who last year created a state-run tourism district here.


Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2855 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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