Despite Higher Gross Gaming Revenue in New Jersey, Several Atlantic City Casinos Winning Less Money

Posted on: July 15, 2019, 12:55h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2019, 12:55h.

Several Atlantic City casinos are winning less money in 2019 than they did in 2018, and it comes despite higher gross gaming revenue (GGR) being generated throughout New Jersey.

Atlantic City casinos GGR
More gaming money is being won by Atlantic City casinos, but four have seen their revenues decline. (Image: Vernon Ogrodnek/The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Hard Rock and Ocean Casino opened in June 2018, and sports betting went live a year ago. As a result, New Jersey’s gaming industry is winning more money from gamblers, but that hasn’t necessarily been a net positive for the operators invested in Atlantic City.

Through June, data supplied by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) reveals that five of the seven casinos in operation prior to Hard Rock and Ocean have won few dollars. Bally’s, Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana have all reported lower total GGR from their land-based and online operations.

Total gaming revenue came in at $283.76 million last month, a 21.5 percent premium. Year to date, GGR stands at more than $1.59 billion – a 26.2 percent surge.

Battle of the Atlantic

When Hard Rock and Ocean Casino opened, there were plenty of concerns among gaming analysts that the market was expanding at a time when it had already reached full saturation. The days of Mid-Atlantic and Northeast residents needing to travel to Atlantic City to find a casino are long gone, but the two parent companies to the Boardwalk properties still went ahead and invested more than $1 billion to reopen the former Trump Taj Mahal and Revel.

Casino Control Commission Chair James Plousis said in 2018, “The new casinos have added competition and it has been a good thing for visitors,” said. “Market adjustments were expected and will continue as each casino works to attract new customers and build their market share.”

Former Bally’s executive Wayne Schaffel opined last August that if Atlantic City gaming revenue doesn’t grow “at least 15 percent, somebody’s not going to make it.” Land-based GGR January through June is up 13.1 percent this year.

Gaming consult Bob Ambrose told the Press of Atlantic City this week that the market will experience a “leveling off” in the coming months, as June 2019 was the last month that will benefit from having revenue from nine casinos compared to seven.

Online gambling and sports betting continue to play a critical role in the Garden State gaming industry. In their first full year in operation, sportsbooks took $3.2 billion in wagers.

Market Unsaturation

A source talking with the New York Post claims Eldorado Resorts’ planned $17.3 billion acquisition of Caesars Entertainment could result in one fewer casino in Atlantic City. The unidentified person says state gaming regulators are considering forcing Eldorado to sell one of its casinos, as the company – should the Caesars takeover be completed – would then own four gaming properties in Atlantic City.

Eldorado owns the Tropicana, while Caesars currently owns its namesake property, Harrah’s, and Bally’s. The latter casino is the likeliest candidate to be shuttered, the source says.

If a sale is required, Eldorado would likely place a non-casino deed restriction on the property, as Caesars did with the Showboat when it closed the Boardwalk resort in August 2014.