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AC Casino Revenue Up in December

Atlantic City
Flickr User Shinya Suzuki

Few things feel better in a gambler’s paradise than the end of a long losing streak. And that’s what Atlantic City has just experienced.

Casinos in the nation’s second-largest gambling market posted a monthly revenue increase of 4.2 percent in December, marking the first time in 3 1/2 years they had done so.

The city’s 11 casinos took in $246.5 million in December. Slot machine revenue was up 8.3 percent, to $174.1 million, while table game revenue decreased by 4.3 percent, to $72.5 million.

The last monthly increase in casino revenue came in August 2008. For the year, though, Atlantic City’s casinos won $3.3 billion, which is down 6.9 percent from 2010. It marked the fifth year in a row that Atlantic City casino revenue has declined, hurt by competition from casinos in neighboring states, and the continuing economic uncertainty.

But the end of the unprecedented losing streak had casino executives and regulators encouraged.

“The positive win results are an encouraging sign of economic recovery for Atlantic City casinos,” said David Rebuck, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, whose office released the figures Tuesday afternoon. “This is an exciting time for Atlantic City as we see more visitors enjoying the casinos and the wide-array of attractions.

“This has been the highest monthly percentage increase since December 2006,” he added. “With the regulatory reforms in place and the upcoming opening of the Revel casino, we are hopeful that this positive trend will continue and reinvigorate the excitement that is part of Atlantic City and its casino venues.”

Atlantic City’s casino revenue hit a peak of $5.2 billion in 2006. That was when Pennsylvania opened the first of what would be 10 casinos right across the Delaware River that would siphon off customers and money from New jersey’s one-time east Coast casino monopoly. When the great recession hit, it made matters even worse, and Atlantic City has been struggling to recover ever since.

Recently, casino executives have said they sensed a turnaround coming, citing good crowds and profitable returns on things not having to do directly with gambling, like big-name concerts, top restaurants, spas and shopping.

The weather last month also helped; in December 2010, New Jersey was buried under several feet of snow that hit the day after Christmas and brought much of the state to a halt.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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