For Atlantic City, $3 billion represents bad news

The money taken in by Atlantic City casinos fell 8 percent in 2012. But that doesn’t come as a surprise.

It’s hard to believe that $3 billion in revenue is bad news, but this is the sixth year of declining profits for New Jersey’s casinos.

“Listen,” said Jeff Vasser, president of Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, “it’s no secret that we are still trying to find where our new normal is when you consider that Pennsylvania has opened casinos and taken a bite out of our casual gaming customer.”

Slot revenues in Pennsylvania were up in 2012 for the sixth year in a row.

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Atlantic City also had a particularly bad November after Hurricane Sandy. December was only marginally better.

“My thought was that, [overall] it was pretty good, considering that we have not fully built back our business from the effects of the hurricane,” Vasser said.

Casino watchers have also been poring over the numbers, and Dave Schwartz of the Center for Gaming Research in Las Vegas says they add up to bad news that can’t be blamed on the hurricane.

“They try to make excuses and say the decline wouldn’t have been that bad of a decline if the storm hadn’t happened,” Schwartz said. “Well a 5-percent decline isn’t good either. The fact that the number is declining, and continues to decline after six years, tells me that the market is in major trouble and needs to do something major to turn it around.”

The taxes the casinos paid to New Jersey fell to about $216 million.

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