Atlantic City Casinos See Most Operating Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

Posted on: September 20, 2022, 01:19h. 

Last updated on: September 21, 2022, 02:28h.

Atlantic City casinos are continuing to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and business at most properties remains below 2019 numbers.

Atlantic City casinos land-based gross gaming revenue
Hard Rock is one of just two Atlantic City casinos that has won more money on its physical casino floor through August 2022 than during the same eight months in 2019. Ocean Casino is the other property that has bettered its pre-pandemic, land-based win. (Image: Twitter)

Last week, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) revealed through its August gaming revenue report that seven of the nine land-based casinos continue to experience reduced play compared to before the coronavirus hit.

Brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue (GGR) from slot machines and table games totaled $273.9 million last month. Though that’s a 4% improvement from August 2021 — and 38% higher than August 2020 — August 2022 remained 4.4% below August 2019, when the nine casinos won nearly $286.5 million.

Overall, the state’s gaming industry continues to enlarge because of iGaming and sports betting. GGR from online slots and table games, plus poker rake, totaled more than $131.4 million in August — 16% better than a year ago and $90.3 million more than what the iGaming platforms pulled in during August 2019.

When GGR combined land-based casino win with iGaming revenue and retail and mobile sports betting, total gaming revenue exceeded $470.6 million. That represents a 10% year-over-year jump.

Most Casinos Below 2019 Numbers

Through eight months of the year, only two Atlantic City casinos — Hard Rock and Ocean Casino — have won more money on their brick-and-mortar floor this year than they did in pre-pandemic 2019. The seven other properties have each won less money on their physical slot machines and table games.

Hard Rock and Ocean’s gains — about $116 million higher for Hard Rock and $101 million better for Ocean — have offset the others’ losses.

Total land-based GGR from January through August totals $1.88 billion. That’s slightly better than the $1.82 billion the same casinos won through eight months in 2019.

Observers React Positively

Analysts celebrated the August numbers with New Jersey gaming revenue continuing to grow industrywide.

Sustained growth in internet gaming win helped the casino hotels achieve their highest total gaming revenue for the month of August since 2008,” said New Jersey Casino Control Commission Chair James Plousis. “Year-to-date, the casino hotels already eclipsed $3 billion in total gaming revenue and are on pace for a very strong year.”

But not all gaming dollars are equal in New Jersey’s casino industry. Casino execs say the state’s overall monthly report is misleading. That’s because a substantial portion of iGaming and mobile sportsbook income is shared with third-party vendors.

Each Atlantic City casino enters into its own individual partnership terms with its iGaming and internet sportsbook providers. Some casino reps say as much as 70% of that revenue doesn’t stay with the actual casino but instead goes to the iGaming/sportsbook firm.

Jane Bokunewicz, director of Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism, told the Associated Press that increased iGaming doesn’t necessarily mean former land-based gamblers have migrated online permanently.

“The relatively slow growth of brick-and-mortar gaming revenues compared to the increasing contribution of internet gaming to total revenue could potentially suggest a change in consumer behavior that doesn’t cannibalize in-person gaming, but includes significant internet gaming activity,” she said. “A decreased reliance on exclusively in-person gaming activity has the potential to keep the New Jersey casino industry competitive with its neighbors and make it more resilient to market disruptions that might potentially occur in the future.”