AC Casino Gambling Revenue Dips To Start 2021

Posted By David Danzis on February 18, 2021

Year over year gambling revenue generated from Atlantic City’s nine casinos was down nearly 17% in January.

Atlantic City casinos reported a just over $160 million in revenue from table games and slot machines last month. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement released the latest numbers Wednesday afternoon.

In January 2020, the city’s nine gambling parlors collectively reported almost $192 million.

Revenue from slot machines declined more than 19% to $113.3 million. Meanwhile, the $46.7 million in table games revenue was a nearly 10% drop-off from January 2020.

So the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing business restrictions continue to impact brick and mortar gaming revenue. Even with an extra weekend and mild winter weather, the casino industry could not match pre-pandemic performance.

CasinoTable & OtherPokerSlot MachinesTotal Gaming Win
Bally's$3,617,570$ -$4,990,539

$8,608,109
Borgata$9,732,196$1,257,439$27,254,983$38,244,618
Caesars$5,772,023$ -$9,749,048$15,521,071
Golden Nugget$1,784,735$ -$8,174,835
$9,959,570
Hard Rock$9,230,877$ -$17,391,006$26,621,883
Harrah's$3,218,053$209,114$11,249,228$14,676,395
Ocean Casino$6,030,114$ -$14,435,444$20,465,558
Resorts$3,099,390$-$7,253,921$10,353,311
Tropicana$2,763,055$ -$12,797,059$15,560,114
Total$45,248,013$1,466.553$113,296,063$160,010,629

Hiding AC’s gambling revenue shortfalls

Continuing a familiar monthly theme, increases from NJ sports betting and online gaming are masking Atlantic City’s struggles.

“Strong growth in both internet gaming and sports wagering provided highlights for the gaming industry in January. Casino win was lower in comparison to pre-pandemic results of January 2020, when restrictions on capacity, amenities and entertainment were not yet in place,” said Casino Control Commission Chairman James Plousis.

Total gaming revenue (the sum of casino win, online gaming and sports betting) was up almost 10% compared to the same period in 2020.

“While the 9.4% increase in total gaming revenue for New Jersey’s casinos is a pleasant surprise, again it is the result of increases in internet gaming and sports wagering,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University.

The January decline in casino win was “expected,” Bokunewicz said.

“We can anticipate a similar decline in February as revenues are compared to the last two months of pre-pandemic operations in 2020,” she noted.

A deeper dive into AC gambling revenue

A closer look at January’s Atlantic City revenue show that Atlantic City’s two newest casino operators are bucking the industry trend of declining casino win.

For the fourth consecutive month, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City posted a year-over -year increase. Hard Rock reported more than $26.6 million in table games and slot revenue last month.

“Hard Rock Atlantic City is very proud of our team and their performance producing a remarkable 24% increase in casino revenue in comparison to last year while the city is down collectively 17%,” said Joe Lupo, the casino’s president.

“COVID-19 and operating restrictions continue to cause difficulty for everyone, however being the only property in Atlantic City to see growth four months in a row speaks to our market-leading ‘Safe and Sound’ protocols and team effort.”

Ocean Casino Resort also reported an increase in casino win last month. The property’s $20.5 million in casino win was enough to position Ocean in third

“We’re off to another strong start this year, up 21.3% in casino win from last January,” said Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean.

“… With the recent curfew lifting and Ocean’s ongoing reinvestment, we’re optimistic we’ll continue to see gaming growth as 2021 progresses.”

The rest of the field stumbled

However, the remainder of the AC market had little reason to celebrate last month.

Without Hard Rock and Ocean in the mix, casino win declined by nearly 27% for the other seven properties.

Particularly eye-opening was Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s 30.1% decline in casino win last month. While Borgata’s $38.2 million was tops in Atlantic City by almost $12 million, it’s a far cry from the casino’s usual performance.

In January 2020, Borgata’s $54.7 million in casino win was more than double the next closest competitor.

And the Borgata’s fellow Marina District counterparts did not fare so well in January, either. Harrah’s Resort reported $14.7 million in casino win. That’s a 37.7% decline from 2020 when it was second in the entire market.

Golden Nugget’s casino win dropped 33.6% to just under $10 million for the month.

But GNAC wasn’t even the market’s worst performer in January. Bally’s reported $8.6 million from tables and slots, a decrease of almost 20% from the prior year.

Here’s a look at casino win and YOY percentage change reported by the others:

  • Caesars, $15.5 million (-8.8%)
  • Resorts, $10.4 million (-16%)
  • Tropicana, $15.6 million (-22.9%)

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Recent easements on business restrictions and widespread COVID-19 vaccinations offer the Atlantic City casino industry a glimmer of hope for the future.

“As vaccine distribution continues to roll out and consumer confidence returns, we can expect to see Atlantic City’s casino revenue improve alongside those of other gaming jurisdictions,” Bokunewicz said. “Atlantic City may even have an advantage on gaming market leader Nevada, in that New Jersey is far less dependent on a ‘fly-in’ visitor base and can draw ‘drive-in’ visitors from the dense population centers of the Mid-Atlantic region.”

Likewise, the state’s gaming regulators are optimistic about the industry’s future.

“While public health remains a concern, Atlantic City has worked hard to provide a safe environment,” Plousis said. “The casinos are well-positioned to welcome back more visitors as the situation hopefully continues to improve and the spring season approaches.”

 

Photo by AP/Wayne Parry
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David Danzis

David Danzis is an award-winning journalist who has covered business, politics, government, education, and sports in New Jersey. Most recently, he wrote about Atlantic City casinos, online gaming, and sports betting for The Press of Atlantic City. David is a graduate of Rutgers University.

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