Deflating Times: AC Casino Revenue Drops Over 60% Following COVID-19 Closures

Posted By Bill Gelman on April 24, 2020 - Last Updated on October 29, 2020

Atlantic City casinos are facing challenging times like they never have before.

The coronavirus pandemic forced all nine gambling halls to close their doors on March 16. A reopening date — or even a reopening month — has yet to be announced.

So, when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) released March’s land-based casino revenue figures last week, the news of a 61.7% year-over-year decline did not come as a surprise.

The casino win came in at $85.4 million, which is a free fall from the $223.1 million earned during the previous year

The domino effect pushed total gaming revenue down 42.7%, ending 21-straight months in positive territory.

Hard to find a positive spin

Casino floors across the country are all dealing with the fallout due to the economic shutdown.

The solution is entirely out of the hands of Atlantic City casino operators. The March numbers are just the tip of the anticipated damage.

Atlantic City properties don’t have any land-based revenue coming in this month. As of now, May 15 is the first date the casino-hotels are taking reservations.

There isn’t any guarantee that the reopening process will come that quickly. If it does, expect that safety restrictions will follow.

That is the best-case scenario.

Atlantic City’s lost revenue

Every Atlantic City casino suffered at least a 45% drop, with the majority of operators seeing more than a 60% negative impact.

The market-leading Borgata led the way with $19.3 million in casino revenue, but that is down 67.5%.

Bally’s Atlantic City ($5.5 million) and Resorts Atlantic City (5.7 million) finished at the bottom.

Here is a closer look at the numbers:

Casino March 2020
Casino Win
March 2019
Casino Win
March 2020
Percentage Loss
Bally's$5,520, 274$14,808,678(62.7)
Borgata $19,298,566$59,443,719(67.5)
Caesars $9,473,240$22,847,474(58.5)
Golden Nugget $7,009,019$17,637,932(60.3)
Hard Rock $10,214,056$24,586,874(58.5)
Harrah's $9,759,978$26,430,569(63.1)
Ocean $8,251,877$15,177,458(45.6)
Resorts $5,693,135$14,922,817(61.8)
Tropicana $10,249,664$27,308,436(62.5)
Totals $85,469,809$ 223,163,927(61.7)

Keep in mind that the chart does not include the $207.5 million that AC casinos reported last April. Next month’s chart will show a giant zero in the column.

Atlantic City casinos vs. Pennsylvania

New Jersey is just one of several states experiencing the impact of closed casino floors.

In each case, the numbers will show a significant loss. Atlantic City alone suffered a loss of more than $137 million.

The number of casinos varies by jurisdiction, so a side-by-side comparison will not paint an accurate picture.

Neighboring Pennsylvania saw a 51% drop in overall March revenue. The Keystone State has 12 casinos.

Nevada has yet to report its monthly revenue.

Hard to ignore NJ online casinos

NJ online casinos are certainly benefiting from NJ residents betting while in quarantine. Stay at home means play at home.

The 20-plus internet gambling and online poker sites reported a record-setting $64.8 million in March. To put that number in perspective, it marks a 24.7% jump from February’s $51.9 million and a 65.6% year-over-year increase.

In some cases, the online number crushed the land-based figures.

Resorts Digital, which includes DraftKings Casino NJ and Poker Stars NJ, reported $13.5 million. That is nearly $8 million more than its land-based results.

Golden Nugget once again crushed in the online gaming category with an all-time high of $23.3 million. It more than doubled its land-based performance.

While Borgata was dealt a crushing blow from the casino floor, its online casino products combined for a 124.6% year-over-year increase. The portfolio includes BetMGM NJ Casino.

These numbers will likely be even more eye-opening when the NJDGE releases figures on May 13.

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AC’s economic recovery post-pandemic

One day soon, hopefully, Gov. Phil Murphy will announce plans for reopening Atlantic City.

When that day comes, customers will likely be lining up along the Boardwalk waiting to go inside AC casinos. It may resemble a mini-celebration.

The number of slot machines and table games available is expected to look much different.

The other factor to consider is that Atlantic City’s prime summer season is fast approaching.

The weeks between the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays are when AC traditionally produces its strongest numbers. So, who knows what to expect this upcoming season?

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen spoke with CNBC on Wednesday. He said it could take a year for its portfolio of casinos, hotels and restaurants to recover.

In other words, the all-clear signal will be the first step to an extremely long process.

Until then, the health and safety of NJ residents remain to be the top priority.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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