TEXT-Fitch: casinos recovering From Sandy, effects may linger
Nov 1 - Gaming operators in Atlantic City, NJ, and across the mid-Atlantic region appear poised to re-open properties affected by Hurricane Sandy relatively quickly, limiting the storms impact on cash flow. However, Fitch believes longer term effects on physical infrastructure and consumer sentiment in New Jersey and surrounding states could have a material impact on fourth-quarter gaming demand. Despite major damage suffered on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, industry officials have indicated that gaming properties have not experienced the type of physical damage that would prevent their re-opening over the next few days. Gaming companies will likely recover some of the lost cash flow from business interruption and property damage insurance. The bigger question for the industry remains the status of roadways and other infrastructure in the Atlantic City and feeder areas, which may limit the ability of casino employees and customers to get to Atlantic City's 12 gaming properties easily. We also believe that regular customers in the region may be preoccupied for some time with storm recovery, potentially lowering visitation volumes for a few weeks. Relative to Hurricane Irene, which hit the region on an August weekend, revenue and EBITDA losses from Sandy will be mitigated by the fact that disruption has occurred during a low-demand, midweek period. However, the post-storm effects could be more severe, resulting in material pressure on fourth-quarter operating results. Caesars Entertainment (Caesars), which has four properties affected by Sandy, indicated on its earnings call yesterday that it expected to re-open its Atlantic City properties shortly, pending government approvals. Trump Entertainment, Revel Entertainment, and the Marina District Finance Co. (owner of The Borgata, a joint venture between MGM and Boyd Resorts) generate all of their cash flow from Atlantic City. Caesars also has significant exposure to the market, with approximately 15% of consolidated EBITDA coming from that market. The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page. The original article can be accessed at www.fitchratings.com. All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings.