Atlantic City's most profitable gambling palace, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, confirmed yesterday that it laid off about 400 of its staff this week.

The 5.5 percent cut in its workforce of about 7,600 was unavoidable in the deteriorating economy, said Rob Stillwell, a spokesman for Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp., which co-owns the Borgata with MGM Mirage.

The Borgata layoffs follow Harrah's Entertainment Inc.'s announcement last Friday that it was cutting hundreds of employees at its four Atlantic City casinos: Bally's, Showboat, Harrah's Resort and Caesars. The four casinos employed 16,034 in September.

"There's always the ebb and flow in employment that comes with the changing weather" at the shore town, Stillwell said, "but this was our first significant staff reduction.

Since the golden-hued Borgata opened in 2003 in the city's Marina District, it has been in expansion mode. This year, it added 800 employees to staff the Water Club, its nongaming luxury hotel.

Without giving a numerical breakdown, Stillwell said management-level employees were let go Monday, followed by frontline workers Tuesday and Wednesday, including some at the Water Club.

"The one thing we believe about this current cycle is that no one anticipated its lasting this long," Stillwell said. "But this is a cycle, and we'll cycle through it and get to better days."

Atlantic City's total revenue in slot machines and table games is down more than 6 percent for the first nine months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier.

That trend is anticipated to continue with October revenue numbers' coming out Monday and as the nation's No. 2 gaming market enters the slow winter season.

Las Vegas, the No. 1 U.S. gambling mecca, was hit even harder. Its gambling revenue slid 6.7 percent through August, on track for the Las Vegas Strip's biggest annual decline on record.