Atlantic City Brick-and-Mortar Casino Revenue in March Short of Pre-Pandemic

Posted on: April 19, 2022, 10:29h. 

Last updated on: April 19, 2022, 11:15h.

Atlantic City casinos are amid a fight to maintain indoor cigarette smoking. The March gaming revenue report for the nine properties could serve as fodder for maintaining status quo when it comes to tobacco use on the gaming floors.

Atlantic City casino revenue GGR New Jersey gaming
A roulette table at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Brick-and-mortar gaming revenue remains down in 2022 compared with pre-pandemic 2019. (Image: WHYY)

Numbers released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reveal that land-based gross gaming revenue (GGR) last month totaled $216.6 million. While that’s a 17.2% gain on March of 2021, the win is a nearly 3% decline — or roughly $6.3 million less — than March of 2019.

Anti-tobacco advocates are campaigning state lawmakers. The goal is to end the Atlantic City casino smoking loophole that allows the venues to designate up to 25% of their gaming floor for indoor smoking. The casinos argue that going smoke-free would put the resorts at a competitive disadvantage.  Nearby casinos in Philadelphia allow indoor smoking.

The fact is that we’re still in a recovery mode from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Resorts Casino President Mark Giannantonio. “Our businesses are still not at the revenue levels of 2019.”

However, when comparing the first three months of 2022 with 2019, brick-and-mortar GGR is actually up. Land-based casino win for January through March of 2022 totaled $612.7 million. The same three months in 2019 generated land-based gaming revenue of $597.1 million.

But record inflation somewhat muddies those numbers. The $597.1 million in 2019 is the equivalent of $671.5 million today.

Recovery Rally

The brick-and-mortar March Atlantic City GGR report remains suppressed from pre-pandemic March 2019.  But there are plenty of reasons for optimism regarding the local gaming industry.

All nine casinos reported year-over-year land-based GGR gains. When iGaming and sports betting are included, last month’s total statewide gaming win eclipsed $432.6 million. March 2021 GGR totaled $359.3 million, meaning last month was an 18% year-on-year improvement.

“It is gratifying to see that every casino grew both casino win and total gaming revenue in March,” said James Plousis, chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

“I commend the casino hotels for adding new and unique capital improvements that will be ready in time to welcome visitors this spring and summer. With each property stepping up its game to compete in a strong marketplace, Atlantic City has become a compelling choice as a regional destination. The casinos are off to an impressive start in 2022 and have a clear runway for a very successful summer season,” Plousis added.

Online and Upwards

iGaming and mobile sports betting continue to fuel the state gaming industry’s overall upward ascent. Internet casino games won $140.7 million last month. Sports betting — the majority of which is facilitated online — won $66.4 million.

The combined $207.1 million won over the internet in March 2022 is $32.7 million more than iGaming and sports betting won in March 2021.

Through the first quarter of 2022, the total GGR from all verticals is already nearly $1.2 billion. The gaming income is almost 19% better than the previous three months.

“With such a strong start to the year, we have every reason, barring as yet unforeseen complications, to expect 2022 to set new near-term records for total annual gross gaming revenue,” said Jane Bokunewicz, director of Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism. “However, operators may still struggle to gain ground on pre-pandemic 2019 in terms of brick-and-mortar gaming revenues.”