ATLANTIC CITY, N. J. (AP) — Atlantic City's casinos endured a sixth straight year of plunging revenues in 2012, taking in just over $3 billion.
Since 2006, when the city's gambling halls took in an all-time high of $5.2 billion, Atlantic City has lost more than 41 percent of its gambling revenue, thousands of jobs, and its status as the nation's second-largest casino market. That title now belongs to Pennsylvania, which passed Atlantic City last year.
The year was marred by Superstorm Sandy, which shut the casinos down for the second time in just over a year. Though it did not physically damage them, the storm scared away visitors for weeks, and damaged the homes of many of the resort's prime customers in New Jersey and New York, who presumably won't be back gambling for quite some time.
"I'm glad it's over," Tony Rodio, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said of 2012. "Actually, that's what we said about 2011, too. But who knew that 2012 would be worse when we had this horrible hurricane?"
The city's 12 casinos took in $3.05 billion last year, a decline of 8 percent from 2011. Eleven of the casinos posted annual declines; the Golden Nugget Atlantic City was up 4 percent for the year, to $130 million.
The arrival of casinos in Pennsylvania triggered the decline in New Jersey in 2007. It was worsened by the national financial collapse and an unsteady recovery.
Atlantic City's December revenue figures showed a slow rebound from Superstorm Sandy, which hit on Oct. 29 and forced the shutdown of the casinos for between five and seven days. The shutdown hurt October revenues, but decimated them in November, sending the city to a 27.9 percent decline, its biggest monthly plunge ever.
Rodio, who also runs the Tropicana Casino and Resort, said he sees numerous indications that business is slowly returning to normal in Atlantic City. Barring any weather disasters, he said 2013 could be a year of decent recovery.
The biggest loser in Atlantic City in 2012 was Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, which fell 25 percent to $102.5 million. Bally's Atlantic City was down nearly 22 percent for the year, to $296 million, and the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort was down 15.3 percent, to $295.4 million.
Resorts Casino Hotel was down 15.2 percent for the year, to $130.8 million; the Showboat casino Hotel was down 12.7 percent to $225.4 million, and Caesars Atlantic City was down 11.1 percent to $358.5 million.
Also down 11.1 percent for the year was the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which has drawn interest from an online gambling company interested in buying it. The casino won just over $127 million from gamblers. The Tropicana Casino and Resort was down nearly 10 percent for the year, to just under $250 million, and Harrah's Resort Atlantic City was down 9.1 percent to just over $399 million.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was down 6 percent for the year, taking in more than $612 million from gamblers in the best showing of any Atlantic City casino in 2012.
The city's newest casino, Revel, won $122.3 million since opening on April 2. It had been counted on to help expand the Atlantic City market, but thus far has not done so.
Kevin DeSanctis, Revel's CEO, said he's confident the casino-resort is on the right track.
"In December, we continued to focus on our overall casino experience, which resulted in an improvement in our gaming revenue," he said. "In connection with the changes to our leadership team, we will continue to improve customer service and roll out new amenities for our guests, including the new Revel Card program, an all-new lounge for slot players similar to what we have for table players, and expansion of our dining options to offer a more accessibly-priced restaurant."
He also said Revel plans to add live gambling tables to its Digipit, along with multiple big-screen televisions for sports and other TV viewing. He also said Revel's UltraLounge now has high limit slots "which are being very well-received."
Jeff Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, said the resort is continuing its recovery from Superstorm Sandy, which largely spared Atlantic City but damaged the homes of many of its customers in New Jersey and New York.
The number of conventions, trade shows and meetings held at the Atlantic City Convention Center in December 2012 increased by 20 percent compared to December 2011. That resulted in a 5 percent increase in occupied room nights and delegates, and a 2 percent increase in delegate, to just under $10 million in December.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC