Revel, the $2.4 billion luxury megaresort that has struggled to attract gambling customers, took a step backward in September amid another month of declining revenue for the Atlantic City casino industry.
Altogether, the 12 casino hotels won $276 million from their slot machines and table games, a 6 percent decline compared with $294.6 million for September 2011, according to figures released Wednesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
On a year-over-year basis, Atlantic City gambling revenue has declined every month so far in 2012 except for August. Higher revenue in August 2012 was aided by the fact that casinos had to shut down an entire weekend in August 2011 because of Hurricane Irene.
Revel, the city’s newest casino, took in just $16.9 million in gambling revenue in September, compared with $20 million in August. Each month since its April opening, Revel has been stuck in eighth place among all casinos for gambling revenue. In April, Revel won $13.4 million from gamblers, followed by $13.9 million in May, $14.9 million in June and $17.5 million in July.
“We’re just not doing it yet,” Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis bluntly said of the casino’s financial performance. “I just think we have to do a better job in going after gaming revenue.”
DeSanctis promised that Revel will “reconnect” with its gambling customers as it prepares to make a more aggressive push for their business into the fall and winter months. At the same time, Revel will continue to pursue the conventions and leisure customers that make up the other key parts of its business model, he added.
“Perhaps the gaming customer felt we didn’t care about them as much. At the end of the day, we think they’re all important,” DeSanctis said of Revel’s diversified customer base.
John Kempf, a casino analyst for RBC Gaming, noted that Revel generated just $12.7 million from its slot machines in September, basically flat compared with August. Kempf characterized Revel’s slot performance as a “continued area of weakness.”
Revel was also stung by an unlucky month at the table games. DeSanctis explained that a large number of gamblers did well playing the table games, pushing down the amount of winnings that Revel held for itself.
“It seems like everybody that came into Revel and played went away happy,” DeSanctis said. “Some months, you’re just going to hold more than others.”
Even a favorable calendar could not boost Revel and most of the other casinos in September. This September had five Saturdays and Sundays, compared with four Saturdays and Sundays in September 2011. Weekend days are usually prime moneymakers for the gambling industry.
Overall, every casino except for Golden Nugget Atlantic City suffered revenue declines for the month. Golden Nugget’s gambling revenue rose 8 percent, in large part because of a nearly 40 percent increase in winnings at the table games. Kempf said Golden Nugget continues to benefit from a $150 million renovation and rebranding from its former days as the Trump Marina Hotel Casino.
Even industry leader Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was not immune to September’s declining market. Borgata’s $55.3 million in winnings were far ahead of everyone else, but its revenue slipped 6 percent compared with a year ago.
Tropicana Casino and Resort, down 29 percent, and Bally’s Atlantic City, off 23 percent, were the worst performers in September. Other double-digit decliners included Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Showboat Casino Hotel and Harrah’s Resort.
Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, Caesars Atlantic City, Resorts Casino Hotel and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort each were down single digits for September.
For the first nine months this year, the casino industry is down 5 percent overall in gambling revenue, to $2.4 billion. Slot winnings have declined 3 percent, while table games revenue is off 10 percent. The figures indicate that Atlantic City continues to be pressured by competition from casinos in surrounding states, particularly Pennsylvania.
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