The numbers are in, and New Jersey casinos are back. That’s the word from gaming officials in the Garden State after gross gaming revenue increased slightly in 2017, even after modest dip in December.
New Jersey’s seven casino resorts increased their annual revenues by 0.3 percent, year-on-year, to $2.41 billion, according to figures by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.
It was the second consecutive annual gain, and the first time that has happened in New Jersey since 2006.
The casinos were also helped by a cumulative $245 million in internet gambling winnings, an increase of nearly 25 percent compared to 2016.
James Plousis, who took over as the new chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in December, told the Allentown Morning Call that the figures show a resurgence of Atlantic City’s financial health after about a decade in which five of the state’s 12 casinos closed.
“Every single casino won more, and every internet operation reported an increased win last year,” Plousis said. “Total internet win had its fourth straight year of double-digit increases. It shows an industry that is getting stronger and healthier and well-positioned for the future.”
The annual gaming numbers finished showing growth despite December revenues that dropped 1.8 percent year-over-year to $186.23 million
Signs of Rebound
The Borgata was the leader among the casinos, taking in $800 million from gamblers, a jump of 4.4 percent from the previous year. The Tropicana, which was left for dead in 2007 with no casino license and rumors of bankruptcy, is now the No. 2 gaming establishment, pulling in $390 million for the year, an increase of 14.6 percent.
Harrah’s experienced a modest 1.6 percent increase, but was third at $363 million. Caesars followed at $325 million, up 7.6 percent. The Golden Nugget rose 14.4 percent to $288 million.
Bally’s almost broke the streak of percentage increases, rising just 0.1 percent, but still earning $211 million. Resorts Casino Hotel, which opened in 2015, brought in the least amount at $190 million, but still, that represented a 10 percent increase compared to 2016.
The health of the seven casinos will be tested this year when two more resorts join the boardwalk. Both the Taj Majal, rebranded as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and the old Revel, recently bought and renamed the Ocean Resort Casino, are expected to open by the summer.
Some remain optimistic and are confident the new resorts won’t affect the other seven’s balance sheets. Mark Giannantonio, president of Resorts, told the Associated Press that he doesn’t believe the new additions will have a negative affect.
“I’m extremely optimistic about Atlantic City and the industry in 2018,” Giannantonio said. “We’re very excited about the renaissance of Atlantic City. We think it’s for real.”
Others are not so convinced. Fitch Ratings gaming analyst Colin Mansfield told the Press of Atlantic City that another new casino could put revenues of those currently operating in jeopardy.
“There is a healthy level of profitability when it comes to gross gaming revenues,” Mansfield said. “The market is in a good spot. The introduction of two [new] properties is not great for Atlantic City.”