Atlantic City casino revenue rose in 2017 for 2nd year

By WAYNE PARRY Markets Associated Press

In 2017, it was a very good year — for Atlantic City's casinos.

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They saw their gambling revenue increase for the second year in a row after a dismal decade in which five of the city's 12 casinos shut down, eliminating 11,000 jobs.

Figures released Friday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the seven casinos won $2.66 billion in 2017, an increase of 2.2 percent over 2016.

The city's top casino, the Borgata, had its best year ever, and Atlantic City has a new No. 2 casino: the Tropicana, which survived a near-death experience a decade ago and has been steadily growing and reinvesting in itself since then.

"Every single casino won more, and every internet operation reported increased win last year," said James Plousis, the new chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. "Total internet win had its fourth straight year of double-digit increases. It shows an industry that is getting stronger and healthier and well-positioned for the future."

Christopher Glaum, deputy chief of financial investigations for the gaming enforcement division, noted that 2017 was the first year since 2006 that there was a year-over-year increase in gambling revenue at brick-and-mortar casinos, where the numbers were up 0.3 percent.

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Atlantic City's remaining casinos have regained their balance in a slimmed-down market.

But that slimming won't last long. Two of the five casinos that shut down in recent years are due to reopen this summer: Revel, which closed in 2014, is scheduled to reopen as the Ocean Resort Casino, and the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in 2016 and will reopen as a Hard Rock casino resort.

Analysts and industry executives are split on whether the market can successfully handle the reintroduction of two new casinos without re-creating the casino glut that led to the shutdowns in the first place.

The casinos were greatly helped in 2017 by $245 million in internet gambling winnings, an increase of nearly 25 percent over 2016.

The Borgata won more than $800 million from gamblers last year, by far the most in the city. Its winnings were up 4.4 percent over last year.

The Tropicana, which was stripped of its casino license and on the verge of closing in 2007, shot up to the city's No. 2 casino in 2017 with $390 million, an increase of 14.6 percent.

Harrah's was next at $363 million, an increase of 1.6 percent, followed by Caesars at $325 million (up 7.6 percent); the Golden Nugget at $288 million (up 14.4 percent); Bally's at $211 million (up 0.1 percent); and Resorts at $190 million (up 10 percent).

The Golden Nugget finished first in internet gambling revenue with $68.5 million. The Borgata, Caesars Interactive-NJ, Resorts Digital and Tropicana were closely bunched behind, with online revenue ranging from $42.5 to $48.5 million.

Friday's report also showed that casino revenue for the month of December 2017 was down by 0.5 percent to $206.9 million.

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