Sandy still hurting Atlantic City

    Let’s start with the obvious: Atlantic City is hurting. The news has been bad for six years. Watching the casino revenue numbers come in has been like waiting for the housing market to bottom out. How low can the numbers possibly go? 

    After Sandy, pretty darn low, and we don’t yet know the extent of her damage.

    The October gaming revenue numbers are bad, down about 20% from the year before. That’s the biggest drop in gambling revenue ever seen in Atlantic City. Revel had its worst month ever, pulling in $4.1 million less than when it was open for a trial run in April.

    The casinos were closed for four days, which obviously put a dent in October revenue. But even after casinos re-opened, gambers stayed away. One study found that 41% of Americans think the entire Atlantic City boardwalk is gone, even though the touristy area of the boardwalk was fine. Still, those pictures of floating boardwalk have kept people away, and casinos responded: The Atlantic City Club laid off 80 employees; Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal forced workers who earn a salaray to take unpaid leave; and until gamblers come back, hour wage earners have seen their hours and shifts cut.

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    So expect November earnings to be bad, too.

    Today, the Atlantic City Alliance will run a full page ad in the New York Times announcing that the town is open for business, and the group has also been running more TV commercials about Atlantic City as a year round destination. 

    I hope it helps, for the sake of the industry’s 40,000 employees and those companies that supply casinos. Atlantic City colud use some good news for the holidays.

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