Atlantic City warms up; Tribe puts faith in Trump

Judging by his apparent failure to build brand awareness of Ten, mogul Glenn Straub is going to have trouble cracking the Atlantic City nut. That’s fine by his rivals, who are all doing very well without him. Online gambling continues to grow hand over fist up, up 29% to $19 million. Casinos as a whole grossed $186 million, a 6% increase despite having one fewer weekend than January 2016. Tables carried the day, up 20% to $60 million, while slots ($124 million) were flat. Borgata outperformed the market, rising 16% to $61 million, with tables bringing in $20 million (up 7%) and slots 6% higher than the market as a whole.

All casinos had revenue positive months, even Bally’s Wild Wild West, which added a few decimal points to the positive side of the ledger. ($14 million). Caesars Atlantic City rocketed an astounding 41% — Lady Luck must have really been favoring the house — 41% to $28 million and Harrah’s Resort also grossed $28 million, a 1% increase. The Caesars Entertainment properties are believed to have been the greatest beneficiaries of the closing of Trump Taj Mahal, a thesis supported by their January performance. Resorts Atlantic City gained 9% to $12 million while Tropicana Atlantic City (also a likely home for dispossessed Taj players) was up 15% to $24 million. Golden Nugget was up 10%, closing out the month at $18 million and change. Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural, meanwhile, continues to pine for a racino in north New Jersey, although he says he can continue to eke out an existence until New York State unleashes three more gaming licenses in 2023. “I’m not a dummy. I recognize that harness racing is a dying business,” he said. “I would have no problem being profitable if I could attract the horses. The only thing that will save me at the Meadowlands is a casino.”

* MGM Grand Detroit had a flat month, but could afford it, dominating the Motown market with $47 million. MotorCity was in its customary second position, with $38 million, but gained 3.5%. Dan Gilbert moved the needle most at Greektown Casino, up 5% to $26 million.

* Boyd Gaming management sat down with Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli and countered “muted expectations” with “solid 4Q16 results.” Boyd is projecting $62 million ROI to Aliante Casino next year, which would be a handsome 15.5% cash flow and vindicate Boyd’s hefty purchase price. Kansas Star also generated record cash flow last quarter, despite a 1% revenue decline. Boyd still has $92 million in the kitty for stock buybacks, so stockholders could see some lagniappe in the new(ish) year.

* Against long odds, the Mashpee Wampanoags are asking the Trump administration to reaffirm the land-into-trust decision made by the Obama administration, enabling them to resume construction on Project First Light in Taunton. (Meanwhile, Neil Bluhm hopes an adverse court ruling will make his unpopular Brockton casino proposal a fait accompli.) They’re bucking difficult odds, especially given Donald Trump‘s long history of racist verbiage on the subject of Native Americans. His Secretary of Interior-designate Ryan Zinke has quite a resume of dismissive remarks and actions against aboriginals. Considering that Trump just ran roughshod over the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in re the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Mashpee Wamps face long odds. To top if all off, Trump is BFF these days with Steve Wynn, who just happens to be building a casino in Everett that would compete with the Wampanoags’ $600 million effort. Do you think Trump is above doing a little favor for a friend?

* Elsewhere in the Bay State, Penn National Gaming‘s Plainridge Park was down 3% year/year. However, that has to be taken in the context of an astounding $313 win/slot/day. We think Penn isn’t too down in the mouth about those January numbers.

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