Atlantic City slumps; Adele hell

Dateline: O’Hare International Airport, land of crappy wi-fi.

We’re not back at the office yet but there’s so much news it just can’t wait. Let’s start in Atlantic City, where casino revenues slumped 7% to $220.5 million last month. Everybody was revenue-negative with two happy exceptions, Borgata (+1%) and Hard Rock Atlantic City (+4%). The latter’s Joe Lupo definitely has some secret sauce for attracting players. Borgata raked in $62.5 million to Hard Rock’s $39 million. Ocean Casino Resort had an abnormally poor month, down 6% to $28 million. Even so, Ocean still outperformed all of the Caesars Entertainment properties, with Caesars Atlantic City tumbling 17% to $17.5 million and Harrah’s Resort also falling 17% to $20 million. Tropicana Atlantic City slid 18% to $17.5 million. Golden Nugget ($12 million, -16%) and Resorts Atlantic City ($13 million, -11.5%) duked it out for last place but were aced by Bally’s Atlantic City ($11 million, -13.5%), which means we look forward to hearing the Bally’s Corp. braintrust spin that on their next earnings call.

Internet gambling generated $147 million (+16%) with BetMGM‘s $41 million giving it pride of place, closely followed by DraftKings ($45 million), then distant FanDuel ($15.5 million). Caesars checked in with $13 million. Sports betting was far less lucrative: $78 million (-8%) on over $1 billion in handle. FanDuel is estimated to have been on top with $40 million, then DraftKings with $16.5 million, BetMGM at $9.5 million, Caesars Sportsbook with $3.5 million and Barstool Sports at $1 million. Everyone else was begging for table scraps.

High maintenance, thy name is Adele. Seems the pricey diva ($1 million per show at Caesars Palace) was miffed that she couldn’t stay in a high-roller suite in the Augustus Tower. Instead, Caesars Entertainmentin a monumental gaffe—palmed the British songstress on its tenant property, The Rio. Mind you, we’ve actually seen some of the Palazzo Suites that Adele felt were beneath her dignity and would be only too happy to live there. But Ms. Adkins and boy toy Rich Paul hied themselves off to Wynncore, where they are ensconced in a Fairway Villa, enjoying twice-daily maid service and Lord only knows what else gleeful Wynn Resorts management is throwing their way in return for the free publicity.

Adele is nominally paying $30K a night, pocket change to her, but we suspect Wynn is comping the whole shebang. There was no tearful Instagram video announcing the change of scene but instead the spectacle of “a convoy of cars” ferrying the “Rolling in the Deep” vocalist to her new abode. It’s all karmic payback for Caesars, which spectacularly flubbed the planned debut of Weekends with Adele last January. Indeed, it flirted with disaster in Round Two. Ms. Adkins took the stage to say, “You’re not gonna believe me, you’re gonna think I want a tiny violin to come out and start playing behind my tears, so last week I was sick as a fucking dog, right. I was like ‘shit, if it’s solely my fault for not being able to perform this Friday, I’m done, I’m gonna fall off the face of the Earth.’” Yeah, we want that tiny violin all right.

As the Daily Mail puts it, “it turned out that the person who Adele felt most sorry for was Adele.” Or, as she wailed of her $192 million payday, “You can’t buy me, you can’t buy me for nothing. I’m not going to just do a show because I have to or because people are going to be let down or because we’re going to lose loads of money.” And eff you to all those ticket-buyers who were left holding the bag. As for the Daily Mail, it might want to hire Scott Roeben as its Las Vegas stringer. For instance, Caesars does not “own” The Rio and the latter is not “across the street” from where Adele is playing … for the moment.

Getting back to gambling, Pennsylvania had a weak October, down 4.5% from last year and -9% from halcyon year 2019. Parx Casino withstood a 6% dip to lead the commonwealth with $49 million, its only close competitor being Wind Creek Bethlehem ($42 million, -7%). The brightest spot was Philadelphia Live, recovering its mojo to the tune of +11% and $19.5 million. Mount Airy nudged up 1.5% to $16.5 million and Pittsburgh Live was flat at $9 million. That’s about where the good news ends. Rivers Philadelphia withstood the Live onslaught fairly well, down 2% to $18 million but Harrah’s Philadelphia ($13.5 million, -19%) and Valley Forge Resort ($11 million, -11%) were not so fortunate. Rivers Pittsburgh fell 7.5% to $29 million, still good enough for third place, and Hollywood Meadows slid 11.5% to $15.5 million. Mohegan Sun Pennsylvania dropped 9.5% to $17 million, Presque Isle Downs was down 12% to $9 million and Hollywood Penn National plunged 18.5% to $14 million. Hollywood York climbed 8% to $8 million, Hollywood Morgantown (above) reported $5 million and Lady Luck Nemacolin did surprisingly well—only 2.5% off to finish with $2 million.

I-gaming leapt 21% to $124.5 million. The catchall Hollywood Casino license garnered $53 million, as BetRivers claimed $29 million and FanDuel captured $23.5 million. Sports betting engendered $61.5 million but $21 million of that was given away in promos, on handle of $797 million. Market share was dominated by FanDuel (37%), DraftKings (29%), BetMGM (7%), Barstool (7%) and Caesars (3%).

Detroit‘s casinos returned to earth with a thud last month. We are only given 2019 comparisons but they’re not kind to Hollywood Greektown, -20% to $22 million. MGM Grand Detroit slipped 5% to finish at $46.5 million, leaving $32.5 million for MotorCity. Internet casinos brought home $141 million, dominated by BetMGM’s $52 million. DraftKings netted $29 million, FanDuel $23 million and BetRivers $9 million. Also making their presence known were Caesars ($5 million), Barstool ($4.5 million) and WynnBet ($4.5 million). Sports betting brought home $49 million on $481 million in handle, of which $17.5 million was given back to players. FanDuel enjoyed 42% market share, then came DraftKings and BetMGM at 20% each, then Barstool (7%) and Caesars (6%). To see Barstool outperforming the Roman Empire must gladden Jay Snowden‘s heart.

In Louisiana, casino revenues fell 8% in October, to hit $179 million. In the constant battle for Lake Charles supremacy, victory fell to L’Auberge du Lac and its $27 million (flat) versus Golden Nugget‘s $26 million, -10%. Delta Downs contributed $13 million, up 4%. Harrah’s New Orleans catapulted 34.5% to $22 million, followed remotely by Boomtown New Orleans‘ $9.5 million (-17.5%). Treasure Chest tumbled 17% to $7.5 million and Fair Grounds racino slipped 9.5% to $3.5 million. Outlying Boyd Gaming properties Amelia Belle ($2.5 million) and Evangeline Downs ($6 million) plummeted 34.5% and 8% respectively. In Baton Rouge, revenue fell below the $1 million threshold at antediluvian Belle of Baton Rouge (-40.5%), while Hollywood Baton Rouge banked $4 million (-21.5%) and L’Auberge Baton Rouge enjoyed $13 million (-19.5%). It was a month the three operators would probably prefer to forget.

That leaves Shreveport/Bossier City, which continues to be the domain of Margaritaville ($17 million) despite an 11.5% dropoff. Horseshoe Bossier City faded toward the pack with $9 million (-31%), dogged by Bally’s Shreveport ($8 million, -10%). Others participating were Boomtown Bossier ($4 million, -10%), Louisiana Downs ($3 million, -19%) and Sam’s Town, which still hasn’t quite bottomed out from the smoking ban, down 11% to $3 million. The jury is still out on sports betting, whose handle was $255.5 million. That translated into $31 million for the books, who spent almost nothing on promos.

Macao‘s government is taking the “command economy” concept to absurd extremes. Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has waved his arm at the Macanese fiscal situation and declared airily that his goal is to more than quadruple the percentage of it represented by non-gaming attractions—to 60%! Can’t be done. Sorry, Ho. Vast “healthcare, finance, technology, sports and culture” industries are to be summoned up with a wave of a magic wand. The rationale is that more non-gaming income would shelter the city against another financial plague like the Covid-19 crisis. We’re not yet sure that tracks. Ho said ominously, “Gaming is always the main source of our economy and once made up for about 60% to 79% of the city’s GDP. This figure is adjustable.”

In other news, individual junketeers are out, company-run junkets are in. But they have to have $1.25 million cash on hand, probably a sensible precaution. Also, casinos will jointly be liable to with junket partners going forward. (Oh no, casino executives groan.) Gaming analysts continue to like the chances of Genting Group to oust one of the existing casino concessionaires, even if that means Genting will have to buy a truckload of existing assets. City Hall has made it clear that new casinos are not welcome.

Jottings: Bally’s Corp., having spent $200 million to obtain the Chicago Tribune printing plant, is going to flip it for $1.7 billion, essentially selling a casino that does not yet exist. We’ve seen some pretty brazen business moves in our time but this one might take the cake … Release of the endlessly awaited White Paper on U.K. gambling has been pushed back (again). Now “early 2023” is the best the government can do … The free market is shaking out the sports betting scene. MaximBet had hardly planted its flag before announcing that it’s exiting the U.S. So long, we barely knew ye … In a vote of no confidence, Apollo Management sold its 22% position in slot maker Play AGS. Not surprisingly, AGS shares dove 22% on the news … Rivers Portsmouth in Virginia has received its operating license, at a cost of $15 million. The $300 million project is expected to open next year with 1,448 slots and 57 table games … Century Casinos breaks ground Dec. 2 on its Caruthersville permanent casino. Anything that takes gambling off the perilous waters is fine by us … The revamped poker room at Bally’s Las Vegas has debuted. Even having to play in a makeshift, 19-table room surrounded by construction has not dimmed players’ ardor as Bally’s morphs into a Horseshoe … If you have a spare $1 million lying about you can enjoy the Formula One big-spender package at Wynncore. It’s a pretty sweet deal if you’ve got the money … In anticipation of hosting the 2024 Olympic Games, casinos in Paris are being authorized to offer craps, blackjack, sic bo and (yes) bingo. Casino gambling—at least of the legal sort—is relatively new to Paris, having only been green-lit in 2017 … The present owner of the Atlantic Club in Atlantic City wants to transform the old place into “luxury condos.” But first there’s the bagatelle of the $680,000 he owes in back taxes, although he claims he’ll cover that with a tax refund he’s expecting.

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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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December 3, 2022, 11:09 am

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