Inside Gaming: New Atlantic City Casinos Add Revenue, Take Market Share
This week’s Inside Gaming starts with the latest monthly revenue report from New Jersey, shares news regarding a possible future casino in Chicago, tells of two new Pennsylvania sportsbooks opening this week, and passes along a story of two California nuns caught stealing funds to finance casinos trips.
Hard Rock Atlantic City, Ocean Resort Up, Most Other NJ Casinos Down
Atlantic City casinos experienced an overall increase in gaming revenue of 20 percent year-over-year according to the latest monthly report by the . But while the two newest AC casinos, Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort, are both adding significant revenue to the overall total, five of the other seven casinos saw revenue declines for the month.
According to the report released Wednesday, the nine casinos’ revenue (including online revenue) totaled $247.4 million in November, up from the $206.4 million total of November 2017. Looking at the year-to-date, at this point in 2017 total gaming revenue among the properties was $2.452 billion, while this year that total has reached $2.612 billion, a 6.5 percent increase.
Revenue from sports wagering at Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park — also new in 2018 — adds another $9.7 million to the overall revenue total for November.
"November was another strong month for the casino industry. The stage is set for 2018 to be the third straight year of growth in Atlantic City," commented James Plousis who chairs the Casino Control Commission, reports .
Both the Hard Rock ($22.8M) and Ocean Resort ($15.2M) bring newly added revenue compared to a year ago. Resorts Casino Hotel saw an increase year-over-year, up in November to almost $16.6M over last year’s $14.9M for a gain of 10.9 percent, as did the Golden Nugget Atlantic City Hotel, Casino & Marina with nearly $25.7M versus $23.6M a year ago for an 8.5 percent increase.
Meanwhile all five of the other casinos experienced declines ranging from small dips of just under 3 percent for the Tropicana Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City to an 11.4 percent decrease for Harrah’s Atlantic City.
Chicago Mayor Discusses Possible Casino Location, Should Legislation Come
Anticipating the possibility of Illinois lawmakers passing a statewide gambling expansion bill, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as many other candidates lining up to oppose him in the next election are coming out in favor of a casino in Chicago to increase the city’s revenue, reports .
In fact, unlike the his potential challengers, Emanuel even has an idea where such a casino might go, having this week indicated a site on the Far Southeast Side as a possible location. Emanuel indicated the site as attractive in part because of its proximity to Hammond’s Horseshoe Casino in Indiana just four miles away which Emanuel noted "draws millions in monthly revenue from Chicago gamblers."
Currently the site of a golf course, the location was recommended by Emanuel though he did not rule out other spots, too, having "asked city planning officials to look at a number of possible casino sites outside of downtown."
While there have been several failed attempts over recent years to introduce casino bills by legislators, Emanuel believes Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker who was voted in last month might "have a window" at the start of his administration to get a deal done to pass a new bill. Pritzker has expressed support of such a plan.
Two New Pennsylvania Sportsbooks Launch Thursday
Two more Pennsylvania casinos opened sportsbooks yesterday as both the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and the Sugarhouse Casino in Pennsylvania began a "soft launch" two-day test period after which (if all goes well according to state regulators) the sportsbooks will fully open tomorrow, according to .
The two new sportsbooks are both operated by owner Rush Street Gaming in partnership with tech provider Kambi. They follow the first to begin taking bets at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville which began accepting wagers in mid-November.
Other PA casinos that have applied for sports betting licenses include Parx Casino in Bensalem, South Philly Turf Club in Philadelphia, and Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester. The licenses require payment of a $10 million fee, plus a 36 percent tax rate on revenue.
It was just over a year ago that Pennsylvania passed legislation to expand gambling in the state, including allowing 10 new "mini-casinos" and increased online gambling. That bill also included a provision to legalize sports betting should the U.S. Supreme Court decide to lift the federal prohibition, which SCOTUS subsequently did when ruling in favor of New Jersey’s appeal against the law in late May 2018.
Nuns Charged With Embezzling $500K in School Funds for Casino Trips
Finallly, did you hear the one about two nuns who walked into a casino? It was no joke, apparently.
According to , two nuns belonging to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet order in California were removed from public ministry after they were accused of embezzling at least $500,000 from a Southern California Catholic school and using some the money on casino trips to gamble.
Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang are said to have allegedly deposited tuition checks, fees, and donations made to the St. James Catholic School in Redondo Beach into a "’long forgotten’ church bank account" that had been opened in 1997 of which only the two nuns were aware.
According to auditors’ findiings, the embezzling dated back at least 10 years, although only the last six years’ worth of transactions were traceable, meaning even more money might have been taken and deposited into the unknown account. As an attorney for the archdiosese explained, the nuns "had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account."
While the archdiocese is cooperating with police in their investigation, they are not pressing any criminal charges because the nuns’ order has agreed to repay the school and impose "severe sanctions" on the two nuns. That decision doesn’t sit well with some students’ parents who believe the perpetrators deserve greater punishment.
The nuns’ trips to Las Vegas were described as visits to see a friend, and while some were aware of the trips and the nuns’ gambling, "they claimed they were gifted the trips by a rich relative."
One upset parent, referencing the nuns’ vow of poverty, spoke derisively of the nuns’ "rich uncle." "The rich uncle was the parents of the St. James students," he said.
Photo: "Skyline" (adapted), Grant Guarino, CC BY-SA 2.0.
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