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Sun feels squeeze from N.Y., Atlantic City

By Lee Howard

Publication: The Day

Published August 01. 2012 4:00AM

Mohegan - New York and Atlantic City gaming operations that have opened in the past year are taking more steam out of Mohegan Sun's revenue stream than had been previously expected, a key official said Tuesday.

Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, tied the added competition to a 4.7 percent decline in profits reported in the organization's fiscal third quarter compared with the same period a year ago. The gaming authority's profits of $344.4 million for the April-through-June period were lower than the $361.4 million recorded in the same quarter last year.

Etess said Tuesday in a webcast that casino officials had expected a slot-revenue drop of about 3 percent related to new gaming competition from Resorts World, the slots parlor that opened last fall at the Aqueduct racetrack in New York City. But they weren't expecting an estimated 3 percent decline in table games that he said also was attributable to Aqueduct competition.

"Frankly, our table games are being impacted more by Aqueduct than anticipated," Etess said.

Etess added that Revel, the $2.4 billion casino in Atlantic City, N.J. that opened during the spring, also had a small effect on Mohegan Sun revenues.

"Our third quarter operating results were lackluster," Etess said in a statement. "However, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) continued to perform well, and we recently broke ground on our new hotel and convention center, which will further add to the property's profitability in the future."

Etess said high-end players at Mohegan Sun have said they are cutting back on gaming partly in anticipation of the possible expiration of Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthy.

"People are still feeling a little squeamish," he said in a conference call.

Through June, both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino had reported six months of year-over-year declines in slots revenue.

Gaming revenues were $307.1 million for the quarter, down 6.5 percent from last year. Slot revenues also fell, by 3.4 percent, to $224.9 million. Table games at Mohegan Sun, he said, showed a 15.4 percent decline year-over-year.

Etess was hopeful that Mohegan Sun would bounce back once long-time customers return to Connecticut after checking out competition elsewhere.

"We believe there will be a return of some visitation and revenue as the novelty of this wears off," he said.

l.howard@theday.com

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