Profit at Atlantic City casinos down nearly 28% in 2010

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s 11 casinos reported their gross operating profit fell by nearly 28 percent last year as fierce competition from casinos in neighboring states continued to batter the nation’s second-largest gambling market.

Year-end tax data released Monday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement showed the casinos with a total gross operating profit of nearly $535 million. That’s down from the nearly $730 million in gross operating profit in 2009.

The figure includes earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and other costs, and is a widely accepted measure of profitability within the gambling industry.

David Hughes, chief financial officer for Trump Entertainment resorts, said 2010 was a tough year because it includes a half-year of financial impact from table games in Pennsylvania, which began in mid-July.

“The problem for the city as a whole has been competition and economics,” Hughes said. “For 2011, I think you’ll still see a decline in the market but it’ll be much less.”

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa claimed the biggest annual profit at $174.6 million, while the Atlantic City Hilton claimed the greatest loss at nearly $19 million.

The Hilton defaulted on its loan in July 2009 when it stopped making payments. It indicated in its tax filings that it has reached a deal with its lenders to stop the clock on its more than $392 million worth of debt and interest, and has retained a financial advisory firm to find a buyer for the troubled casino.

But in percentage terms, the biggest decline was at Resorts Casino Hotel, which came very close to closing its doors last December before it was bought by casino veteran Dennis Gomes and New York real estate investor Morris Bailey. Resorts was owned by the same owners as the Hilton, Los Angeles-based Colony Capital LLC, when it turned over the keys to its lenders in December 2009 because it, too, could no longer make loan payments.

For 2010, Resorts posted an operating loss of $18.5 million, a decline of nearly 41 percent. The casino has since gone on an expense-slashing binge, including making all its workers re-apply for their jobs at lower salaries, and is trying an array of promotions to increase business volume.

Trump Marina Hotel Casino posted an $8.3 million operating loss, compared with a $4.9 percent operating profit a year earlier. It is being sold next month to Texas-based Landry’s restaurants, and will be re-branded as the Golden Nugget Atlantic City.

Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino posted a $2.3 million operating loss, compared to a $9.2 million operating profit a year earlier.

Even though the Borgata posted the city’s biggest profit, its numbers were still down 14.5 percent from a year earlier.

Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City posted a $134.5 million operating profit, down 9.4 percent from a year earlier.

Caesars Atlantic City had an operating profit of $71.8 million, down 34.3 percent, while Bally’s Atlantic City had a $71.2 million operating profit, down 30.5 percent.

The Showboat Casino Hotel had a $45 million operating profit, down 28.7 percent, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort had a $50.6 million operating profit, down 40.4 percent, and the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which was sold to billionaire Carl Icahn in March 2010, had a $35 million operating profit, up 7.2 percent. It was the only Atlantic City casino to see an increase in its gross operating profit for the year.

Caesars had the highest hotel occupancy rate at 91.4 percent, and an average room rate of $94.70 for the year. Bally’s was at 90.4 percent occupancy and averaged $86.59 a night.

Occupancy at the Borgata, Harrah’s, Showboat, Tropicana and Taj Mahal was in the 80 percent range. The lowest occupancy was at Resorts, at 66.2 percent, with an average room price of $66.20, the lowest in the city.

The 2,769-room Borgata led all casino hotels with 860,416 occupied room nights, while Trump Marina, the smallest casino-hotel at 728 rooms, had the fewest at 192,834.

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