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Anthony Smedile

Atlantic City’s 12 casinos are looking for a recovery in their gambling revenue this spring following a dismal winter. So far, they haven’t gotten it.

April’s gambling revenue came in at $228.5 million, down 12 percent compared with $259.9 million last year, according to figures released Friday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Slots revenue fell 14 percent, to $161.7 million, while winnings from table games were down 6 percent, to $66.8 million.

The gambling industry struggled through the winter, suffering three straight months of double-digit revenue declines blamed on the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy and competition from casinos in surrounding states. April’s figures suggest there is no early-spring rebound on its way.

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The results also represented a huge disappointment for Revel, the $2.4 billion megaresort that has been mired near the bottom of Atlantic City gambling revenue since it opened in April 2012. Revel’s revenue this April plunged 40 percent, to just $8 million, compared to a year ago.

“Although our April gaming revenues were disappointing, we are launching new initiatives that will drive future growth and reintroduce Revel to the gaming public over the next couple of months,” said Jeffrey Hartmann, Revel’s interim CEO.

Revel is in the midst of restructuring its finances and ownership in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Next week, a bankruptcy court judge and the New Jersey Casino Control Commission are expected to approve the casino’s plan of reorganization, which will shave $1 billion of debt off its balance sheet and give ownership of Revel to its lenders.

Revel has been adding new amenities and overhauling its marketing strategy to attract new customers. On Friday night, Revel opened a new $3 million high-limit slots lounge and VIP club.

“This is the first of many new amenities and investments being made at Revel as we seek to broaden our appeal across a variety of demographics and gaming preferences,” Hartmann said.

April’s results, though, placed Revel next to last in gambling revenue. Only Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino’s $6 million take was lower than Revel. Moreover, Revel’s 40 percent decline in revenue was by far the biggest drop among individual casinos.

Only the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and Caesars Atlantic City posted higher revenue for the month. Caesars rose by a modest 6 percent, but Atlantic Club’s revenue jumped nearly 37 percent, continuing the tiny casino’s comeback this year after suffering a combined operating loss of nearly $40 million for 2012 and 2011.

“April’s results represent the fifth straight month of double-digit growth for the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. Our performance is not a coincidence but a direct result of our unique positioning as ‘just the best deal in Atlantic City,’” said Michael Frawley, the casino’s chief operating officer.

“This has been a large ship to turn in some very challenging times, but our philosophy is to simply give the guest what they want. And our results are clear evidence we are moving in the right direction,” Frawley added.

Atlantic Club has been trying to sell itself, but a proposed deal with the Rational Group, parent company of online global gambling giant PokerStars, collapsed this month. Atlantic Club called off the $15 million sale for undisclosed reasons, but the Rational Group has filed a lawsuit to have the court uphold the deal. A hearing is scheduled for May 17 in state Superior Court.

Atlantic Club is the only casino — excluding Revel, which was open for only one month this time last year — that has posted year-over-year revenue growth in 2013. It is up a combined 27 percent through the first four months of the year.

Overall, the industry has reported $884.6 million in total gambling revenue so far in 2013, down 12 percent compared to a year ago. Slot winnings are off 14 percent, to $617.9 million, while table game revenue has declined nearly 7 percent, to $266.6 million.

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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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