Revenue keeps falling at Atlantic City casinos

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Revenue at Atlantic City's 11 casinos took a record-breaking plunge last month — the final insult in a second straight down year for the resort city.

The casinos won $302 million from gamblers in December, down 18.7 percent. That shattered the previous record for the biggest monthly decline of 15.1 percent, set in September.

In all of 2008, Atlantic City's casinos won 7.6 percent less from gamblers than they had in 2007. Before 2007, casino revenue in town increased every year since gambling was legalized here in 1978.

"Over the last two years, about $600 million in gross gaming revenue has disappeared from Atlantic City," said Joseph Weinert, senior vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group.

Also gone during that period: 3,330 casino jobs.

"Last year was a very challenging one for Atlantic City casinos," casino commission chairwoman Linda Kassekert said. "While the economic problems that face this nation took their toll on casinos in 2008, the industry was also hurt by growing competition in neighboring states and a partial ban on smoking in casinos."

Atlantic City's decline coincided with the opening of slots parlors in Pennsylvania and New York that have siphoned away gamblers who had no choice but Atlantic City if they didn't fly to Las Vegas or drive for hours to other states.

Slot machine revenue fell 9.6 percent to $3.13 billion, and table games brought in $1.41 billion, down 3 percent.

Only one casino — Harrah's Resort Atlantic City — showed an increase for the year; its revenue rose 4.9 percent. The two biggest declines were posted by casinos owned by Colony Capital, the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort at 18.3 percent and Resorts Atlantic City at 16.3 percent.