April was another lukewarm month for Atlantic City casinos.
In-person gambling revenue from the nine casinos was down for the month but remained slightly ahead of last year’s pace. Only two properties were up in April 2023 compared to 2022, while one of the market’s strongest performers had a rare stumble backward.
The post-COVID trend of overall gross revenue growth because of online gambling and sports betting making up for AC’s shortcomings also continued in April.
Here are a few key takeaways from the monthly gaming reports.
AC casinos see year-over-year drop in revenue
Revenue from table games and slot machines in Atlantic City casinos was down 1.6% year-over-year, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Collectively, the nine casinos reported just under $231.5 million in April, down from $235.3 million in April 2022.
The market was up 11.5% compared to 2019, a gauge commonly used to compare the pre-and post-COVID AC casino industry. However, the comparison is somewhat flawed. Two casinos were still in their first year of operation on the AC Boardwalk and had yet to establish themselves.
Year-to-date, land-based casino revenue is up 4.6%, according to the DGE. Through April, the casinos have generated more than $886.7 million in revenue, compared to $848 million at the same time last year.
Even among strong performers, some rare setbacks
So, who were the month’s strong performers?
Ocean Casino Resort ($34.2M, +30.3%) and Golden Nugget Atlantic City ($13.1M, +6.6%) were the only two operators to post a Y-o-Y increase.
Ocean, one of the casinos that opened in June 2018, has firmly planted itself in the top tier of the AC casino market. The once left-for-dead casino consistently ranks third in monthly retail revenue.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is the undisputed market leader in AC. In April, the Marina District casino generated $58.1 million, a Y-o-Y decline of 5.7%. It was the first month in 2023 in which Borgata did not outperform the previous year.
Another infrequent stumble was that of the market’s clear No. 2, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. Since the fall of 2020, Hard Rock has only failed to report a Y-o-Y increase three times: February 2021, November 2022 and April 2023.
Hard Rock, which was the other casino to open in 2018, reported $38.8 million last month. It was a slight drop of $1.8 million, or 4.4%, from April 2022.
What about the rest of AC casinos?
The middle of the pack in AC is occupied by Caesars Entertainment’s three AC casinos. Caesars Atlantic City ($19.7M, -2.7%), Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City ($21.9M, -5.7%) and Tropicana Atlantic City ($19.5M, -13%) are all performing at a comparable level to 2022.
Reno-based Caesars Ent. is in the process of investing more than $400 million into the three properties. Some of the stagnant gambling performance can be attributed to guest disruptions as a result of construction and ongoing updates at the properties.
Bally’s Atlantic City is also undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation. The monthly gambling returns from Bally’s are still underwhelming for the iconic casino but progress is noticeable. In April, the casino reported $13.8 million, a 4.3% decline from last year’s $14.4 million. For the year, Bally’s is up 1.6% over 2022.
Resorts Casino Hotel, which is turning 45 this summer in celebration of being AC’s first legal gambling parlor, generated $12.4 million last month, down 13.1% from April 2022’s $14.3 million.
Taking a look at total gambling revenue in New Jersey
Total gaming revenue is the sum of land-based casino win (tables, slots and poker), online gambling and sports betting.
In April, total gaming revenue reported by AC casinos and their digital gambling partners was $420.9 million. Last month’s total was an 8.8% increase over the $386.8 million from last year.
Online gaming revenue increased by 16.1% to $158.9 million. It was the second-highest grossing month for online casinos in the 10 years it’s been legal in NJ.
Meanwhile, sports betting went up year-over-year by 109.2% and the books posted $30.5 million in revenue. When the three licensed racetracks and their online gambling partners are included, NJ sports betting generated more than $72.3 million in April.