Gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the US climbed nearly three percent over the first five months of 2018 compared to the same period in the prior year.

gaming revenue Atlantic City casinos

Gaming revenue in the US casino industry is growing, but concerns remain regarding Atlantic City. (Image: Seth Wenig/AP)

Analyst Ken Adams writes in his monthly national gaming recap published for CDC Gaming Reports that May GGR totaled $3.56 billion, a 4.56 percent premium on May 2017. Year-to-date, gaming win across the country is up 2.81 percent to $17.58 billion.

All of the stars are in alignment in 2018 for the gaming industry, if one does not look too deeply into the individual jurisdiction,” Adams stated. “If one does, it’s clearly still a jungle out there, albeit a slowly-changing one.”

Adams said May was the first “apples-to-apples” monthly comparison in 2018. He points to the fact that May ’17 and ’18 had the same number of weekend days, and the number of casinos nationwide was “pretty much the same.”

Atlantic City Concerns

May was a prosperous month for many casinos in numerous states. 

Nevada, the country’s richest gambling state, saw GGR increase 5.3 percent, with the statewide take coming in at more than $1 billion dollars. In Las Vegas, Strip casinos did even better, as win jumped 6.3 percent.

Maryland’s seven gambling floors all saw GGR increase. They made $148.9 million, a collective 14.1 percent surge. Detroit casino revenues climbed nearly four percent.

Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos, second in GGR to only Nevada, post bland revenues with a negligible 0.43 percent increase. Louisiana gaming floors were also flat.

But in Atlantic City, land-based GGR tumbled 7.2 percent. Year-to-date, New Jersey’s seven casinos are down more than six percent at their brick-and-mortar operations, or $61.6 million short of where they were at this time last year.

Atlantic City added two more casinos last month with the opening of Hard Rock and Ocean Resort. Some analysts hope the new properties will attract new visitors and therefore grow the market, but Adams thinks any gaming increase “will be at the expense” of the other seven casinos.

“There is no white knight on the horizon for Atlantic City casinos,” Adams concluded.

Sports Betting Impact

Casinos in New Jersey and Delaware will benefit moving ahead of having full-fledged sports betting now that those two states legalized the gambling activity in the wake of the Supreme Court’s May repeal of the federal ban.

Sports betting isn’t a huge moneymaker for casinos. Nevada’s sportsbooks collectively won a record $248.7 million last year, or just two percent of overall GGR.

What sports betting might do, however, is bring new patrons to Atlantic City. The goal would be to convert those sports fans to slot machines or table games after printing their betting slip.

Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Mississippi have passed legislation to legalize sports betting, though operations aren’t yet underway. Another 13 states are considering measures regarding the recently liberalized gambling.

Eilers & Krejcik, a gaming research firm, believes as many as 32 states will have legal sportsbooks within five years.