MTR Gaming Group (Nasdaq:MNTG), the owner/operator of Mountaineer Racetrack & Gaming Resort in West Virginia, reported a 20 percent drop in revenue in the two weeks following the Sept 11. terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
The Chester, W. Vir.--based firm said revenues at Mountaineer for the weeks ended Sept. 15 and Sept. 22 were $3.4 million and $3.6 million, respectively, down about 20 percent from a year ago. The declines and the softening United States economy, however, are not enough to derail ongoing plans for growth and expansion, according to Edson R. (Ted) Arneault, president and chief executive officer of MTR Gaming.
"The downturn in the economy may impact Mountaineer to some extent, but we expect to achieve steady growth due to our unique offerings, the increase in the number of slot machines, implementation of the increased bet limit, lack of reliance on air travel, and our core customer base of retirees who use disposable income for entertainment," Arneault said. "Accordingly, our strategy for growth and expansion remains unaltered: our new hotel, which will house 262 well-appointed rooms and suites, should open in the second quarter of 2002."
Arneault also said the company will continue pursuing regulatory approval to build Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pennsylvania; and continue seeking other racing and pari-mutuel businesses in neighboring states.
Mountaineer operates 2,347 slot machines, of which 747 accept its new maximum bet. MTR Gaming shares were trading down 0.7 percent, or 6 cents at $9.15 on the Nasdaq stock market.
In other news, MTR Gaming announced that it repurchased 127,600 shares of the company's common stock on September 19 and 20 in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Commission's relaxed trading restrictions adopted to help boost the markets. Among the rules waived was a prohibition on companies buying their own stock during first and last 30 minutes of trading. The rule was created to prevent companies from manipulating their stock price. The SEC has said the rule could be waived up to 10 days. Companies also are allowed to increase the daily purchases of their stock by 100% of the previous month's average volume.
The transactions were made in the open market at prevailing market prices for a total of $1,053,599. Since announcing its repurchase program in April of 2000, MTG Gaming has repurchased a total of 405,600 shares for $2.9 million. The company is now asking its bankers to considering increasing the funds available for repurchase from $3 million to $10 million.