New Jersey casino operating profits down 46 percent in Q4

Mount Laurel, New Jersey (AP) – Not only gambling revenue is falling at Atlantic City’s 11 casinos.

The resort city’s casinos are making less from food, lodging and other amenities, too, according to a report issued Thursday by the state Casino Control Commission.

The commission said the gross operating profits at Atlantic City’s casinos were USD 131.9 million for the quarter — down 45.8 percent from the USD 243.5 million the casinos made in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue for the quarter was USD 951.6 million — down nearly 15 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007. For all of the 2008, operating profits were USD 941 million — down nearly one-fourth. And revenues were USD 4.48 billion — down more than 7 percent.

Gross operating profits, which represent earnings before accounting for interest, taxes, depreciation and other charges, is considered a better comparison among casino properties than net income.

The industry’s net income, which includes those items, makes things look even worse. On that basis, the casinos lost more than $ 900 million in the quarter and USD 1.5 billion for the year.

Linda M. Kassekert, chairwoman of the commission, said the industry’s problems come from a combination of the recession and ramped-up competition from casinos and slot parlors in neighboring states.

In 2008, the push to attract more customers with nightlife and high-end dining weren’t enough to increase profits.

There were a few bright spots, though.

For the year, all 11 casinos still have positive gross operating profits. And the casinos collectively had more people spend the night for the year.

Still, with more rooms built, the occupancy rate slipped to 87 percent from nearly 92 percent in 2007. Further, the casinos charged less per room and the revenue from rooms fell from USD 505 million to less than USD 498 million.