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Atlantic City Casinos' Biggest Monthly Decline since 1978:
Revenue in September, 2008 Off 15.1%
By Suzette Parmley, The Philadelphia InquirerMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 11, 2008 - Atlantic City last month suffered its largest monthly decline in gaming revenue since the seaside resort opened its first casino in 1978.

Figures released yesterday by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission confirmed what had been felt by many casino operators there: Last month was horrible.

Slots competition from Pennsylvania casinos, a split Labor Day weekend, and a tropical storm combined to whack the resort's casinos, resulting in a 15.1 percent decrease in total revenue, compared with September last year. They took in $356 million, compared with $419.4 million a year ago.

All 11 Atlantic City gambling halls reported revenue decreases, from a 5.0 percent drop at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to 32.5 percent at Resorts.

"The results were depressed by several unusual factors, including the simple fact that the Labor Day holiday weekend fell mostly in August," said Dan Heneghan, spokesman for the state gaming commission, which regulates the Atlantic City gambling market.

Heneghan said that three-day holiday weekends were generally lucrative for the city's casino industry and that Labor Day weekend is one of the biggest for Atlantic City.

This year, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend fell in August -- which explained why that month had a slight uptick in revenue compared with August 2007. Only Monday, Labor Day, was counted in September's revenue.

So instead of having five weekends as they did last year, the casinos had four this year.

Another factor was Tropical Storm Hanna, which hit the East Coast the Sept. 6-7 weekend and "significantly hurt business on that weekend," Heneghan said.

And not the least of Atlantic City's worries are seven slots parlors in Pennsylvania, which have taken a good chunk of its business.

The seven Pennsylvania casinos generated $133.1 million in gross slots revenue last month, of which the state takes a 55 percent cut. The tax in New Jersey on gross gambling revenue is 9.25 percent.

PhiladelphiaPark Casino & Racetrack led among the seven Pennsylvania casinos, taking in $26.9 million.

Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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To see more of The Philadelphia Inquirer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.philly.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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