Atlantic City Casinos hit first quarter jackpot
By Paul
The casino industry’s recovery from the tourist fallout of 9/11 was underlined on Friday with impressive first quarter figures for the dozen reporting casinos. Gross operating profit increased 25.7% and operating margin increased by 4.4%.

'The proof is in the pudding. Atlantic City must be getting better and must be giving visitors a better experience. Very impressive,' says gaming analyst Raymond Cheesman of Jefferies & Co.

The dozen casinos reported gross operating profit of $270.1 million on net revenue of $1 billion, up 4.9 % compared to corresponding quarter last year, according to the Casino Control Commission.

The casinos managed to increase their gross operating profit, or cash flow, by $55.3 million even though revenue increased by only $47.4 million.

'All of the revenue went straight to the bottom line because everybody's controlling costs,' said Mark Brown, chief operating officer of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc.

Brown and Cheesman cited the combination of better than usual winter weather, ongoing fears about air travel, easy comparisons to last year's poor results and city improvements for the first-quarter surge.

'There's a lot more free traffic coming into the city,' Brown said, referring to cutbacks in the cash incentives for gamblers. 'A lot of people who may or may not have been there in a while, maybe confirmed Vegas people, were looking for a getaway, gave the city another chance and were reasonably happy with what they saw,' Cheesman said. 'The city has made a lot of improvements. It gets better every year.'

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