Revel Casino-Hotel launched a “Gamblers Wanted” marketing campaign in July, asking customers to give the financially troubled megaresort a second chance to earn their business.
Now, it seems, gamblers want Revel.
Revenue figures released Friday for the Atlantic City casino industry show Revel was the standout for July. It took in $23.4 million in total revenue from its slot machines and table games, a 33 percent increase from a year ago.
“I think the July results clearly reflect the impact of the ‘Gamblers Wanted’ campaign,” said Jeffrey Hartman, Revel’s interim CEO.
Most of the other casinos weren’t so lucky, however. Overall, the 12 casino hotels generated $297.2 million in gambling revenue in July, a nearly 4 percent decline compared to last year, according to figures compiled by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Resorts Casino Hotel joined Revel as gainers for the month, up 19 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
The Atlantic City economy also is showing strength in other sectors of the tourism market. July’s holiday fireworks displays, entertainment lineup and festivals boosted visits to the city, officials said.
During the Fourth of July, traffic increased nearly 7 percent through the Atlantic City Expressway toll plaza that serves as the main gateway to the resort town. In addition, there was a 7 percent increase in the number of July visitors at the information centers operated by the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, the agency said.
Major events in July included an elaborate Fourth of July fireworks display; a sold-out concert at Boardwalk Hall by pop superstar Beyonce; and the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival.
“There’s no doubt that special events in Atlantic City are a major draw for tourists,” said Jeffrey Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.
Events at the Atlantic City Convention Center this year have brought 212,950 people to town, filled 40,772 room nights and generated more than $64 million in delegate spending, the authority said.
While nongambling attractions have been a catalyst for more visitors, the gambling sector is still trying to emerge from a summer slumber. After a disappointing June, the casinos were hoping that July would be the start of a turnaround heading into the rest of the peak summer tourist season.
July is traditionally one of the casino industry’s strongest money-making months, but Atlantic City has seen revenue fall each month in 2013 compared to the same period last year, including a 13 percent decline in June.
“I think most of the markets in the Northeast are suffering from excess supply,” Hartmann said, referring to the intense competition between Atlantic City and casinos in surrounding states.
Revel, on the other hand, saw both its slot winnings and table games revenue jump more than 30 percent in July. Normally mired near the bottom of the pack in monthly revenue, Revel jumped to sixth place with the help of its new “Gamblers Wanted” marketing strategy. The campaign included a “You can’t lose!” promotion that promised to refund gamblers’ slot losses.
Hartmann said Revel was able to double its market share in July to nearly 8 percent, attracting new customers to town instead of simply cannibalizing business from other casinos. He noted that some visitors came from more than four hours away, a strong indication that Revel helped to expand the market.
Hartmann said Revel hopes to build on its upward momentum throughout the year by introducing new promotions, including some that will be announced after Labor Day.
“We’re reasonably confident that we can maintain the market share numbers,” Hartmann said.
Revel continues to reshape its marketing strategy following its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May under new ownership. Revel’s new management team led by Hartmann has essentially rebranded the luxury resort as a more affordable casino.
“We are deeply grateful that many Atlantic City gamblers are giving us a second chance,” Hartmann said.
Borgata’s 10th anniversary celebration in July helped power the casino to $64.3 million in gambling revenue, nearly $30 million more than its closest competitor, Caesars Atlantic City.
“Our 10th anniversary celebration really put a lot of emphasis on the property,” said Joe Lupo, Borgata’s senior vice president of operations. “Last year being $15 million over our closest competitor in July and this year being $30 million over our closest competitor really shows our dominance in the market.”
Resorts, meanwhile, continues to benefit from the opening this year of its $35 million Margaritaville-themed restaurant, bar and casino expansion project. The partnership with singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who owns the Margaritaville brand, has freshened up Atlantic City’s oldest casino with a tropical-style flair.
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