Commercial Gaming

Atlantic City Casinos Come Roaring Back, March Gaming Win Totals $359M

Atlantic City casinos enjoyed their best month since the onset of the pandemic began early last year. But overall, casino profits in 2020 were down 80 percent from 2019.

Gamblers play slot machines at Hard Rock in Atlantic City. The nine casinos in town posted strong revenue numbers for the month of March 2021. (Image: The Daily Journal)

Brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue (GGR) from slot machines and table games totaled $184.8 million. That’s a 116 percent year-over-year increase, as the nine casinos in Atlantic City were forced to shutter operations in mid-March of 2020 on New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) orders.

Online gaming, including revenue from poker fees, won just shy of $113.7 million. iGaming continues to expand its GGR, as March 2021 was a 75 percent surge on March 2020. Sportsbooks kept $60.7 million of the bets wagered. Handle — or the amount of money risked at sportsbooks — was $859.6 million. 

All combined, New Jersey’s gaming industry reported March 2021 revenue of $359.2 million. That’s up 120 percent year-over-year.

Gaming reports for several states were released today, one being Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has surpassed New Jersey to become the No. 2 richest gaming industry market in the US, behind only Nevada. Pennsylvania GGR totaled $403.1 million last month. 

Positive Trend

March 2021 easily topped March 2020, as the market conditions were much more favorable because of the casinos being open throughout the entire month. But even when comparing last month to March 2019, the $359.2 million haul is still 18 percent higher.

Numerous COVID-19 regulations remain in place in Atlantic City. Each casino is limited to operating at 50 percent of its fire code capacity. More troublesome, casino executives claim, is that smoking indoors on the casino floors remains on hold. 

Obviously, COVID, the occupancy restrictions in place, and smoking ban are negatively affecting the market’s ability to fully rebound,” Hard Rock Atlantic City President Joe Lupo told the Associated Press. 

Despite a most difficult year, Hard Rock reported a gross operating profit in 2020 of nearly $11 million. It ended the year strong, as the Boardwalk casino turned in a $12.5 million operating profit in the final quarter. 

Anti-casino advocates disagree that the temporary smoking ban is hurting Atlantic City’s casinos. The Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights said today that recent robust revenue reports for casinos shows that the smoking suspensions are not turning away gamblers. 

Borgata Top Operator

MGM Resorts’ Atlantic City casino led the way last month in total GGR. The Borgata won over $89 million from gamblers, including $46.5 million at its physical casino and $36.1 million online. 

Hard Rock was second at approximately $69.9 million. The casino is the online gaming leader in New Jersey, its Golden Nugget Online Gaming unit reporting iGaming win of $31.1 million. 

As for sports betting, the Meadowlands and partner FanDuel continue to dominate. The in-person and online sportsbook reported revenue of $31.2 million, or more than half of the state sports betting win. Resorts and partner DraftKings were a distant second at $14.1 million.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

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