Atlantic City heads into fall on the heels of its best summer in recent memory. New Jersey’s beachfront gambling town saw two new casinos open, and the excitement of Hard Rock and Ocean Resort kept the Boardwalk resorts busy.

Atlantic City gaming industry casinos

The weather is cooling in Atlantic City, but the gaming industry just enjoyed one of its hottest summers in years. (Image: Hard Rock Atlantic City)

The Press of Atlantic City reports that Atlantic City saw more tourists arrive in town between June through August than in the last several years. The two new casinos also dramatically increased the number of workers employed by the gaming venues, and the added properties fueled a gross gambling revenue (GGR) surge.

The summer of 2018 was the best summer in recent years for Atlantic City,” Casino Association of New Jersey President Kevin Ortzman told the media outlet.

Ortzman, who is also Caesars Entertainment’s regional president, added, “Casinos saw significant gains this summer in employees, visitors and gaming revenue. This growth demonstrates that the casino industry’s investment in Atlantic City’s transformation into a first-class resort and business conference destination is working.”

In July, the first full month with Hard Rock and Ocean Resort in operation, brick-and-mortar GGR climbed more than 10 percent. In August, casino win was even higher at nearly 21 percent.

Gaming Revenue Ups and Downs

Total GGR, which consists of land-based operations, online gaming, and sports betting, the latter which went live in June, for the three summer months totaled $839.6 million. That’s a 15 percent premium, or more than $109 million, compared to June through August 2017.

While GGR increased in July, there were concerns after the seven casinos not named Hard Rock or Ocean Resort saw their wins all decline. But in August, Borgata, Caesars, and Golden Nugget all kept more money than in the same month 2017. However, Bally’s (-10.7 percent), Harrah’s (-3.0 percent), Resorts (-3.4 percent), and Tropicana (-4.3 percent) remained in the red.

Data supplied by the South Jersey Transportation Authority additionally reported that there were more toll-paying vehicles passing through the Pleasantville Toll Plaza, the last toll before Atlantic City on the Expressway, in the summer of 2018 than 2017.

Betting on Sports Betting

Atlantic City casinos employed over 30,000 workers for the first time in more than four years in August. But just as soon as the gaming industry eclipsed the labor force plateau, the process of laying off temporary summer help began.

As the beaches clear, Atlantic City naturally sees a decline in visitation. But this fall and winter, New Jersey casinos will be afforded a new luxury by way of sports betting.

Sportsbooks are now operational at six casinos, plus the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park racetracks. Sports wagering handle totaled more than $95 million in August, and gaming analyst Dustin Gouker told Reuters recently that he expects the Garden State to be a much larger sports betting market than Nevada upon maturation.

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Executive Director David Rebuck shares Gouker’s optimism.

“With the new casinos that opened in June and the addition of sports wagering options … the gaming industry has experienced growth rates in July and August that have not been achieved in years,” Rebuck said. “It is an exciting time for Atlantic City and we look forward to continued revenue growth going forward.”