Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City’s perennial powerhouse, surged far ahead of its competitors in August to complete its best summer since 2009.
Propelled by a strong performance at its table games, Borgata finished the month with an industry-leading $62.6 million in gambling revenue, up 13 percent from a year ago.
Altogether, Atlantic City’s casino industry posted $298.1 million in total slot and table games revenue in August. That’s a 5 percent decline from $313.2 million a year ago, figures released Tuesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show. Slot winnings fell 3 percent, to $219.5 million, while table game revenue declined nearly 11 percent, to $78.6 million.
Revel Casino-Hotel, which was up 2 percent at $20.5 million, saw its first back-to-back monthly revenue increase since it opened in April 2012, after a 33 percent revenue increase in July.
Revel emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May and has been courting customers through its new “Gamblers Wanted” marketing program.
“It’s working,” said Jeffrey Hartmann, Revel’s interim chief executive officer. “You walk before you run, and we’re in a slow jog. We’re moving from walking to a slow jog. We’re moving forward, and the trends are positive.”
Scott Kreeger, Revel’s interim chief operating officer, was less reserved in his language.
“This is unprecedented levels of increase,” he added.
Resorts Casino Hotel was the other standout in August. The casino continues to benefit from the grand opening this summer of Jimmy Buffett’s $35 million Margaritaville-themed expansion project. In August, Resorts’ revenue increased nearly 12 percent, to $14.6 million.
While most of the industry had a lackluster summer, Borgata rebounded from a slow start in June to post a 19 percent gain in July and another double-digit increase for August.
“To have our best summer since 2009 really speaks to what we’ve been doing,” said Joe Lupo, Borgata’s senior vice president of operations. “We would obviously like to see the region increase its visitation and market share, but in the meantime, we’ll continue to fight aggressively not only for us, but for the rest of the city.”
Borgata, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in July, has relied on an aggressive marketing program and big-name entertainment lineup to keep ahead of its rivals, Lupo said. In August, Borgata outgrossed its closest competitor, Caesars Atlantic City, by nearly $25 million.
“I think it goes to our planning and promotions and our customer base — having the loosest slots combined with the most aggressive promotional activity, great entertainment and the best product in Atlantic City,” Lupo explained of Borgata’s performance.
Overall, the gambling industry was looking for at least one month of higher revenue for the summer following declines in June and July. The summer traditionally is the prime money-making time for casinos, but August’s figures did not provide the hoped-for results to close out the peak tourist season.
Competition from casinos in surrounding states continues to put pressure on the Atlantic City market.
For the first eight months of 2013, Atlantic City’s 12 casino hotels have posted nearly $2 billion in gambling revenue, down 9 percent from the same period last year.
Although gambling revenue is down overall, the local economy is showing some strength in other areas. At the Atlantic City Convention Center, attendance rose 138 percent in August, to nearly 3,500 delegates, according to the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.
In addition, the number of convention-related room nights jumped 188 percent in August, while delegate spending was up nearly 240 percent, to $2.6 million, the convention authority reported.
Tourism officials hope the Miss America Competition this month and other major events will continue the gains in the non-gambling sector through the fall.
“With the information we’ve gleaned from media reports about post-Sandy effects, it’s hard to anticipate what any month will bring,” Jeffrey Vasser, president of the convention authority, said of Hurricane Sandy. “But we do know that special events are a big draw, and with the Miss America Pageant, fall public shows at the Atlantic City Convention Center and a host of other events, all of the Atlantic City Tourism District entities are putting forth a concerted effort to keep visitors coming through the fall.”
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