Atlantic City revenue dips in June as Trump Taj Mahal strike drama ratchets up

trump-taj-mahal-union-strike-icahn-new-yorkAtlantic City’s casinos suffered another brick-and-mortar revenue decline in June, and this time they can’t blame the calendar.

Figures released Wednesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show land-based gaming revenue of $197.5m, down 3.6% from the same month last year and down even further from May’s $203.3m. Add the $16.4m from the state’s online gambling sites and June’s overall number is down only 1.2%.

Total slot machine win was down 3.7% to $142.9m while table games fell 3.3% to $54.5m. Through the first half of 2016, total land-based revenue is up 0.6% to $1.15b, or up 2.5% to $1.25b if you count the online contribution.

Only two of AC’s eight casinos were in positive territory for the month, with the Trump Taj Mahal up 13.2% to $17.3m while Resorts rose 9.8% to $15m. The other six were negative nellies, even the market-leading Borgata, which slipped 1.3% to $56m.

Runner-up Harrah’s took the month’s biggest tumble, falling 12.7% to $27.7m, while third-place Caesars was off 10.6% to $25.2m. The Tropicana fell 3.9% to $23.6m, Bally’s slipped 3.1% to $16.9m and the Golden Nugget was down 8.4% to $15.7m.

The Taj Mahal may have been one of June’s few revenue winners but it may be losing the publicity battle it’s waging with its unionized employees. Around 1k employees walked off the job on July 4 to protest new owner Carl Icahn’s cancellation of their health insurance and pension benefits.

The strike by members of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union doesn’t involve the Taj Mahal’s croupiers or security staff, so the casino has remained open despite the picket lines outside.

On Wednesday, the strikers showed up outside Icahn’s Manhattan office. They were joined by other union members from New York, then marched the two blocks down Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower, where Der Donald plots not only his business deals but also his presidential campaign. (Trump no longer has a stake in the Taj Mahal but Icahn has endorsed his candidacy.)

Tropicana Entertainment, which operates the Taj Mahal, responded to the union’s PR move by sending Local 54 members a letter with an ultimatum: accept the most recent settlement offer by Monday at 5pm or the offer will be revoked. The offer includes medical benefits, but not to the extent that Local 54 is seeking.

In response, Local 54 president Bob McDevitt wondered why the Taj Mahal was offering partial benefits when the Tropicana, which is also owned by Icahn, was able to work out a deal with its unionized staff that included full benefits.

In other AC news, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission gave its blessing to MGM Resorts purchasing the 50% of the Borgata it didn’t already own from Boyd Gaming. The $900m deal was first announced last month.

The Borgata will now be owned by MGM Growth Properties, the company’s new real estate investment trust, which will lease the property back to MGM, which will in turn sublease the property to the Marina District Development Corp partnership that currently runs the joint, then you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, because corporations.