Having escaped any serious structural damage from Hurricane Sandy’s wrath, Atlantic City’s dozen casinos got some more good news on Friday when Governor Chris Christie announced he was lifting the emergency order that closed the gaming joints on Sunday. Christie made the decision after receiving assurances from Division of Gaming Enforcement director David Rebuck that each casino had carried out the required review and assessment of their facilities, “including the casino floors, its equipment, surveillance, security and gaming-related computer systems.” Christie simultaneously lifted the mandatory evacuation order issued to city residents, allowing them (including many casino staffers) to return to their homes to do their own damage inspections.
Atlantic City’s newest casino, Revel, has indicated it will reopen Saturday at noon. The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel is delaying its relaunch until Monday at noon. The other 10 casinos will all be open by 4pm on Friday. The Golden Nugget was the first casino to open Friday morning, marking the official end of a five-day shutdown that is estimated to have cost the city’s gaming business between $25m to $30m in lost revenue. Golden Nugget general manager Tom Pohlman said there were lines outside when the doors opened at 11:30am and that business has been “surprisingly strong.” Tropicana GM Steve Callender sounded a more cautious note, telling the Press of Atlantic City: “It’s not like the place is going to be packed when we open. Lives have been shaken. They’re taking care of themselves.”
Elsewhere in the region, Connecticut’s two casinos were taking care of business, with both claiming to have done boffo numbers as a result of Atlantic City’s hiatus. The Associated Press reported that both the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun claimed their hotels were at maximum occupancy this week. It didn’t hurt that Foxwoods issued an email promo offering 50% room discounts, nor the fact that unlike many local residents’ homes, neither casino lost electrical power during the storm, making their hotels seem a good place to ride things out.
In Pennsylvania, the state Gaming Control Board reported that Sandy’s disruption contributed to just the fourth monthly decline in slots revenue since the state’s first casino opened six years ago. A GCB spokesman said one casino was closed for part of two days at the end of October, while overall customer traffic was down significantly while Sandy was blowing. Combined slots revenue at the state’s 11 casinos was $188.4m, a 4.4% drop from the $197.2m tally in October 2011, when just 10 casinos were in operation. Factor out that 11th casino and the decline grows to 6.5%. However, last October had five high-volume Saturdays vs. the traditional four in 2012, and the total number of slots in operation has fallen from 26,546 last October to 26,168 this year.