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Caesars takes 4Q loss following impairment charge

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Caesars Entertainment Corp. said Monday it took a loss in the fourth quarter after recording a $450 million impairment charge and reporting double-digit revenue declines at its Atlantic City casinos.

Caesars said the impairment charge came from one of its properties in the Atlantic City region, where it has five casinos. Revenue fell in most of Caesars' business regions, and the biggest drop came from Atlantic City, where revenue sank 19 percent. The company believes it lost $40 million to $45 million in revenue as a result of Superstorm Sandy, which kept its Atlantic City properties closed for several days. It also said competition in that region increased.

The company, which runs casinos under the Caesars, Harrah's, and Horseshoe names, said it lost $469.7 million, or $3.75 per share, in the last three months of 2012. Caesars lost $220.6 million, or $1.76 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2011. Its revenue fell 4 percent, to $2.02 billion from $2.11 billion.

Analysts expected a loss of $1.75 per share and $2.12 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

In after-hours trading, Caesars slipped 86 cents, or 7 percent, to $10.85, after gaining 12 cents during regular trading.

The company said revenue in its Atlantic City region fell to $335.1 million, a decline of almost $80 million from the year-ago quarter. That includes its results from Bally's Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's Atlantic City, Showboat Atlantic City as well as Harrah's Philadelphia. Caesars said the casinos in Atlantic City were closed for five days after Sandy made landfall, and Harrah's Philadelphia was closed for two days.

"The slow recovery from the storm resulted in significant declines in trips through the region," CEO Gary Loveman said Monday in a conference call with analysts and investors.

Revenue from the Las Vegas region, where the company runs nine casinos including Caesars Palace, fell 3 percent to $742.6 million. The company also reported less revenue from Iowa and Missouri, and Illinois and Indiana, and virtually flat revenue in Louisiana and Mississippi.

For the full year, Caesars took a loss of $1.5 billion, or $11.95 per share, after losing $687.6 million, or $5.50 per share, in 2011. Revenue edged up less than 1 percent to $8.59 billion from $8.57 billion.

Caesars added that trips to its Atlantic City properties fell 10 percent compared to 2011.

Loveman was optimistic about the company's ability to take advantage of new markets as states legalize online wagering.

"With the World Series of Poker, the Caesars brand and the quality of the offerings we already have online around the world, I like our chances for market share," he said.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill last week paving the way for interstate Internet gambling based in the Silver State. New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign similar legislation in the coming weeks.

Loveman said it "wouldn't be a bad thing" if the two states could team up with Delaware, which has also legalized online gambling, to form the core of a national market.

While major casino companies like Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts International carve up the lucrative market in Macau, Caesars, frozen out of the Chinese gambling enclave, has touted a possible expansion into South Korea.

Loveman said the company submitted its proposal to the Korean government last month.

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