Atlantic City Casino Revenue Down 32 Percent, Analysts Hopeful of Recovery

Posted on: March 16, 2021, 02:27h. 

Last updated on: March 16, 2021, 03:17h.

Atlantic City casinos continued to struggle last month amid ongoing operating capacity limits. The nine brick-and-mortar casinos won $148.2 million from their slot machines and table games, a 32.1 percent decline compared with February of 2020.

Atlantic City casinos gross gaming revenue
The Borgata poker room is seen here last week following its long-awaited reopening. Atlantic City casinos won $70 million fewer dollars last month on their land-based slots and tables than they did in February 2020. (Image: The Press of Atlantic City)

February 2020 was a difficult comparison, as it was the final month before New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ordered the Atlantic City casinos to shut down their land-based gaming operations. Murphy ordered the casinos to close a year ago today. They were permitted to reopen ahead of the July 4 Independence Day weekend.

The 32.1 percent year-over-year gross gaming revenue (GGR) decline was offset by another strong monthly performance in iGaming and sports betting. 

Online slots and table games, as well as interactive poker fees, generated $93.8 million for casinos and their internet partners. That’s an 80.4 percent surge in February 2020. Oddsmakers won $46.2 million on monthly handle of $742.9 million. 

When GGR from all channels is combined, gaming revenue totaled $288.2 million, which is a small 0.3 percent uptick in February 2020. 

Pandemic Concerns Linger

Murphy eased his restrictions on indoor gatherings last month. Casinos were allowed to increase their floor capacity from 25 percent to 35 percent, effective February 5. 

More importantly, that same day restaurants no longer had to suspend indoor food and beverage service nightly at 10 pm. That meant casinos could serve drinks and meals around the clock. But despite the loosened operating regulations, Atlantic City’s casinos didn’t experience a rush of returning visitors.

Casino win could not compare to the pre-pandemic results of last year, before restrictions on capacity, amenities, and entertainment were implemented,” said James Plousis, chair of the state Casino Control Commission, to the Associated Press.

Murphy’s lifting of the 10 pm indoor dining curfew on February 5 came just 48 hours before Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The big game attracted $117.4 million in bets, with oddsmakers keeping $11.3 million. 2021 handle jumped 116 percent from $54.3 million in 2020. 

Despite strong Super Bowl betting, February 2021 handle was down $200 million year-over-year. 

AC Ready to Welcome Back Visitors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 12 percent of the US population is now fully vaccinated from COVID-19. Twenty-two percent of the nation has received at least one dose. 

New Jersey is in the upper half of the 50 states in distributing the vaccine. One in four Garden State residents has received one dose, and 13 percent of New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated. As a result, Murphy decided to allow Atlantic City casinos to further increase their indoor capacity to 50 percent later this week.

“Governor Murphy’s order that increases indoor casino occupancy to 50 percent later will help speed the casinos’ recovery,” Plousis added. “Atlantic City has been successful minimizing risk to visitors during the pandemic, and it is ready to move forward safely.”