Atlantic City casinos 1st quarter profits up 30 percent

By WAYNE PARRY Markets Associated Press

After months of good news from Atlantic City's recently struggling casinos, a top New Jersey gambling regulator made a bold proclamation Monday: Atlantic City's casinos are healthy once again.

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Matt Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission made the comment after the state Division of Gaming Enforcement released figures showing gross operating profit for the seven casinos rose by 30.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period a year ago.

It is the latest in a series of upbeat financial reports after the seaside gambling resort was rocked by the closure of five of its 12 casinos since 2014. The surviving seven appear to have regained their footing in a slimmed-down market with less competition close by.

"If there were any doubt about the health of Atlantic City's casino industry, these results should lay them to rest," Levinson said. "It's clear to me that the industry has stabilized and operators are showing healthier bottom lines. With the summer upon us, there are a host of concerts, festivals and other events over the next several months that should help casinos continue to grow."

Gross operating profit reflects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and other charges. It's a widely accepted measure of profitability in the gambling industry.

The Borgata had the highest operating profit at $61.4 million, an increase of nearly 29 percent from the first quarter last year. Harrah's had an operating profit of $23.7 million, which was down 11.3 percent from the same period last year, and Caesars had an operating profit of $20.1 million, up 31.6 percent from the first quarter of last year.

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The Tropicana had an operating profit of $16.2 million, which was more than double the $7.3 million profit it showed in the first three months of 2016. The Golden Nugget's profit was nearly $6.2 million, a decrease of 7.7 percent from last year; Bally's had a 4.5 million profit, down 19.9 percent from last year, and Resorts had a $4 million profit, which was nearly 10 times its profit from the first quarter of last year.

Among internet-only entities, Caesars Interactive-NJ had an operating profit of $2.3 million, down 6.6 percent from last year, and Resorts Digital saw a $570,000 profit, compared with a $1.1 million loss in the first quarter of last year.

The Borgata had the highest average hotel room rate at $128.22 and the Golden Nugget had the lowest at $75.67.

Resorts had the highest occupancy rate for the quarter at 88.7 percent, while the Golden Nugget had the lowest at 71.8 percent.

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