Atlantic City casinos rebound as municipal gov’t stares bankruptcy in the face

atlantic-city-bankruptcyAtlantic City casinos rebounded in April thanks to a more respectable showing at their gaming tables.

On Thursday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) published its figures for April 2016, which showed total brick-and-mortar gaming revenue at the city’s eight casinos rising 6.3% year-on-year to just over $198m. Add in the $17m that the state’s licensed online gambling sites earned last month and April’s total was up 8.1%.

April’s slots revenue rose nearly 5% to $142.6m while table games bounced back from their poor showing in March, rising 10% year-on-year to $55.5m. For the year-to-date, brick-and-mortar gaming revenue is up 2.7%, which rises to 4.4% if you include the online contributions.

This April benefited from having two more weekend days than April 2015, but New Jersey Casino Control Commission chairman Matt Levinson wasn’t about to quibble, calling the results “very heartening” and praising the city’s surviving gaming venues for doing “a better job attracting new customers in a challenging business environment.”

Six of AC’s elite eight were in positive territory last month, with the Borgata continuing to lead the brick-and-mortar revenue chart with just under $56m (+4.5%). Runner-up Harrah’s was one of the month’s decliners, falling 1.1% to $29.1m.

The month’s other loser was the struggling Trump Taj Mahal, which slipped 4% to just under $15m, putting it perilously close to trading places with eighth-place Resorts Casino Hotel, which improved 14% to $13.9m. The month’s biggest gainer in percentage terms was the Golden Nugget, which improved 16.4% to $16.7m.

Meanwhile, AC’s municipal government appears no closer to backing away from its financial precipice. The city managed to scrape up $1.8m to make its required bond payments on May 2, buying it a couple more weeks in which to try and work out a rescue package with its state-level counterparts.

But that window of time is rapidly closing. State pols were due to vote on a rescue plan on Wednesday but the matter was deferred by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who continues to reject a five-year state takeover of AC’s finances that has the backing of state Senate president Stephen Sweeney and Gov. Chris Christie.

Prieto has resisted the proposed rescue due to its requirement that the city’s unionized workers give up their collective bargaining rights. Atlantic City only has days before it officially runs out of money, leaving it with little option but to declare bankruptcy if a compromise rescue deal proves out of reach.