A Boardwalk Christmas; Mega-Jottings

Atlantic City rebounded nicely in June, up 5.5% to $241.5 million. Table game winnings were flat, despite 3.5% larger wagering than last year (so the players made out well) and slot win jumped 7% on a commensurately higher amount of coin-in. That extra weekend day this year sure didn’t hurt. Borgata approached its 20th anniversary (100 in dog years) stronger than ever, leaping 11.5% to $60.5 million. Ocean Casino Resort made a game stab at second place, vaulting 17.5% to $35 million, but even in a down month (-3%), Hard Rock Atlantic City staved it off with $43 million.

Caesars Entertainment‘s troika was bunched closely together. Caesars Atlantic City ($21.5 million) led for a change, up 11.5%. Harrah’s Resort and Tropicana Atlantic City were both right around $21 million, 4% up and 2% down respectively. Last place went to Golden Nugget, down 6% to $12 million. It was bested by Resorts Atlantic City‘s $15 million (+11%) and by Bally’s Atlantic City ($12.5 million), even if the latter ceded previous gains, slipping 8%.

Internet casinos hopped 12%, bringing in $149 million. DraftKings led with $52 million, seconded by BetMGM‘s $39 million, with FanDuel well back at $17 million. Ditto Caesars at $14 million. That’s still better than some of the OSB providers. Sports betting won $66.5 million from $592 million in handle, with DraftKings and FanDuel notching $24 million apiece. Also-rans included BetMGM ($5 million), Barstool Sports ($2 million) and Caesars Sportsbook ($1 million), not getting much bang from its retail presence.

It continues to be a healthy year (+6%) for Massachusetts. June was no different, with revenues hopping 8% to $100.5 million. Encore Boston Harbor was leader of course, with $65.5 million and a 9% climb. MGM Springfield gained 5% to reach $22 million and Plainridge Park did $13 million for +8% finish. In sports betting, $332 million of handle boiled down neatly to $33 million in win. Favorite son DraftKings dominated with 47% market share, while FanDuel contented itself with 34%. Retail presence didn’t translate into big bucks except for MGM (11%). Barstool had only 3%, WynnBet 1.5%, while outsider Caesars Sportsbook had a 2% slice.

Despite the Land of Lincoln’s headlong casino expansion, revenues continue to lose steam. Illinois in June was 3% down both from last year and pre-pandemic 2019, meaning revenue of $122 million. This was the first full month for Golden Nugget in Danville, posting a quiet $2 million. Bigger noises were made by newbies The Temporary at American Place ($6.5 million) and Hard Rock Rockford ($6 million, +45.5%) and, of course, by Rivers Des Plaines, with $44.5 million, albeit -4% diluted by new competition.

The aging riverboats in the Chicagoland area that Dan Lee likes to disparage all did well, whether Empress Joliet ($7 million, +8%), Empress Aurora ($8 million, +7%) or Grand Victoria ($12.5 million, +5.5%). Harrah’s Joliet, however, lost ground ($11 million, -2.5%). Downstate casinos mostly had a very good month, aside from Harrah’s Metropolis (above), flat at $5 million. Argosy Belle jumped 20% to $3 million, DraftKings Casino Queen was up 2% to $6.5 million and Par-A-Dice gained 6.5% to $5 million, whilst Bally’s Quad Cities hopped 11.5% to $5 million.

When robbing a Las Vegas casino or three, it might not be a bad idea to wear a mask that covers your face. That’s one of the lessons to be learned long and painfully by Las Vegas Metro officer Caleb Rogers, convicted of three casino stickups last week. Rogers gets to cool his heels until October, when he’ll be sentenced. He could get life in the big house, having waved a gun around in two of the robberies. It only took the jury three hours to convict this loser on all counts. Although seemingly radioactive, Rogers remains a Metro employee, pending an internal investigation—which oughtn’t to be rocket science. After all, Rogers “had a unique set of skills and knowledge about robberies as a law enforcement officer and used that to his advantage.” His attorney, Richard Pocker, tried to argue that correspondences among the evidence were somehow “too coincidental.” That line obviously got laughed out of the jury room. Having such a pockmark for counsel might constitute grounds for appeal … but we hope not.

Those 100 displaced employees of Aruze Gaming might not be out of jobs after all. Play Synergy swooped in over the weekend to snap up Aruze’s intellectual property, including terrestrial assets. It also acquired “the sales, service, support, and operations of Aruze’s slot route and operations.” This implies a need for manpower and know-how, and indeed Play Synergy announced that “Aruze, Play Synergy, and all other stakeholders in the process have worked exceptionally well together to provide the vast majority of Aruze team members with new employment opportunities.” Splendid.

Another, even bigger deal in Sin City has nationwide ramifications. MGM Resorts International and Marriott International have announced a new alliance between their companies, one whose reciprocal benefits are very George for Marriott and Mlife members. 17 MGM-branded properties will be marketed by Marriott and Mlife members get juiced into Marriott perks, too. Although there is a new “MGM Collection” (debuting in October) under the Marriott escutcheon, Bellagio, Aria, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Park MGM will be in other, upscale collections. We feel for tony, high-priced Borgata, MGM National Harbor, MGM Grand Detroit and Beau Rivage, lumped into the MGM Collection with the kitschy likes of Excalibur and New York-New York. Kind of debases the new brand, don’t it?

Hard Rock Bristol is a hit, a palpable hit. Its $162.5 million in Year One revenue is more than some entire, major states record in a month. Official estimates of gambling revenue tend to wax optimistic but the study commissioned by the Virginia Lege actually lowballed Hard Rock winnings by 25%—an estimated $130 million only. Those numbers were predicated on a completed Hard Rock casino, due in 2025, not a mere temporary. This just goes to show the power of the Hard Rock brand, now and incontestably the most potent in gaming, rivaled only by MGM.

Jottings: Gambling on the subcontinent otherwise known as India took another step toward legitimacy as the government imposed a 28% tax on casinos, horse races. Of course it was met with predictable wailing that it would “stunt intellectual property and technology.” Tell us another one … Kazuo Okada‘s seamy activities have made him a wanted man in the Philippines. An arrest warrant has been issued for such misadventures as plundering the Okada Manila casino cage … Blackstone Group will pay AUSTRAC $293 million in fines over the next two years, a court in Australia decreed. It’s punishment for the misdeeds of Crown Resorts and Blackstone would be justified in feeling it got off lightly … 2Q23 earnings reports are drawing nigh and analyst par excellence Frank Fantini thinks they could cosset “few surprises … more of the same.” Anybody care to dispute him?

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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