Atlantic City casino profits drop on eve of sports betting

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With two new casinos set to open, Atlantic City's current gambling operators were unable to keep pace with last year’s first-quarter revenue growth during the first three months of 2018.

The city’s seven casinos reported this week that first-quarter gross operating profits were down 11.7% in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2017, according to figures provided by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement. They reported $123.6 million of gross operating profits. The occupancy rate in casino hotels was at 77.9% from Jan. 1 to March 31, a 3.2% drop from the year-ago period, the DGE said.

Bally’s Atlantic City had the biggest first-quarter dip with a 38.2% profit drop. Golden Nugget saw the biggest increase at 61.5%.

The first-quarter casino numbers were released a month before two new gambling venues open simultaneously on June 28: Hard Rock International at the former Trump Taj Mahal location and Ocean Resort Casino at the former Revel site. Five Atlantic City casinos closed from 2014 to 2016, but New Jersey lawmakers hope the city’s casino industry gets a boost from a plan to legalize sports betting in the state after the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on May 14.

Atlantic City’s seven remaining casinos reported a collective 23.7% increase in their gross operating profit for 2017. Moody’s Investors Service analyst Douglas Goldmacher said in a late April report that last year’s casino success was a “credit positive” development for the distressed city. The city, which nearly defaulted on its debt in 2016, has junk bond ratings of CCC-plus from S&P Global Ratings and Caa3 from Moody’s.

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