Atlantic City gambling revenue plunged by double digits in January, suggesting that the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy continue to weigh down the market.
Overall, the 12 casino hotels took in $205.6 million in revenue from their slot machines and table games, down 13 percent compared to $236.9 million in January 2012, according to figures released Monday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
John Kempf, a casino analyst for RBC Capital Markets, called it an “extremely weak” performance for the entire industry. He noted the industry was down nearly 17 percent among the 11 casinos that were open in January 2012. Revel, the $2.4 billion megaresort, made its debut last April.
Atlantic City is still trying to recover from the Oct. 29 hurricane’s damaging blow. First, the casinos had to deal with a weeklong hurricane shutdown that cost them an estimated $5 million a day in lost revenue.
Gambling revenue declined in October, November and December as the market slowly tried to rebuild in Sandy’s aftermath. January proved no different.
“Obviously, I think it was a disappointing result. I think the industry and the market are still feeling the effects of Sandy,” said Tony Rodio, president and chief executive officer of Tropicana Casino and Resort.
In addition to the post-Sandy challenges, the casinos also ran up against an unfriendly calendar in January. They were hurt by one fewer weekend day in January 2013 compared to last year.
All of the casinos that were open in January 2012 had lower revenue this January except for the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which was up 15 percent. Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was the worst performer, declining nearly 41 percent, to finish the month with an industry-low $4.9 million in revenue.
Revel continued to disappoint. It had a little less than $8 million in gambling revenue in January, good for only 11th place among all casinos.
January represented Revel’s second-worst month ever. In November, it grossed just $6.2 million. Month after month, Revel has been mired near the bottom of the pack in gambling revenue.
“Revel dropped to the second-worst performer in Atlantic City, bringing in just $8 million,” Kempf wrote in an analysis of January’s results. “The property won just $56 per slot per day, which was the lowest in the market.”
Kevin DeSanctis, Revel’s chief executive officer, said the casino is developing a series of improvements to its marketing programs, player-loyalty card, dining options and entertainment lineup to drive more business to the property.
“We have just begun reintroducing Revel to the gaming customer,” DeSanctis said.
January’s results were a troubling start for the new year. Atlantic City is trying to break a six-year revenue slump caused by the fragile economy and competition from casinos in neighboring states. Hurricane Sandy was the latest setback.
Atlantic Club, January’s lone standout, benefited from a 21 percent increase in its slot revenue to end the month higher. Atlantic Club is in the midst of being sold to the parent company of online gambling giant PokerStars.
Among other casinos in January, Golden Nugget Atlantic City was down just fractionally. Tropicana Casino and Resort and Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa were the only other casinos to hold their declines to single digits.
In addition to Trump Plaza, the biggest losers were Bally’s Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort, Caesars Atlantic City and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, all down more than 20 percent for the month.
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