As much as March’s Atlantic City casino revenue report contains reasons for optimism, it also serves as the latest reminder that the industry has yet to completely recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In-person gambling revenue increased at all nine Atlantic City casinos last month compared to March 2021, according to data released Monday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Online gambling generated a new monthly record. New Jersey sportsbooks took over $1 billion in bets for the sixth time in the last seven months.
However, seven Atlantic City casinos reported less revenue in March 2022 than in March 2019. Those same casinos also reported less money gambled at slots and tables, some by more than 25%.
Casino employment is down more than 21% today compared to a year before the pandemic started and more than 17% from a month before the industry shutdown caused by COVID.
Just the facts: Atlantic City casino revenue in March ’22
Atlantic City gambling revenue in March 2022 was $216.6 million, a year-over-year increase of 17.2%.
Online casino operators in NJ generated more than $140.65 million last month, beating the previous all-time high of $137.85 million set in January.
Sportsbooks partnered with AC’s casinos reported over $25.6 million. NJ sportsbooks collectively generated more than $66.4 million in March.
Total gambling revenue — the sum of land-based, online and sports betting — reported by the casinos increased nearly 18% last month compared to March 2021.
“It is gratifying to see that every casino grew both casino win and total gaming revenue in March,” said NJ Casino Control Commission Chairman James Plousis. “The casinos are off to an impressive start in 2022 and have a clear runway for a very successful summer season.”
|Casino||Table & Other||Poker||Slot Machines||Total Gaming Win|
|Golden Nugget||$2,582,153||$ -||$10,036,950||$12,619,103|
|Hard Rock||$12,837,080||$ -||$26,480,171||$39,317,251|
|Ocean Casino||$5,528,687||$ -||$19,891,967||$25,420,654|
Looking beyond the surface numbers
Year-to-date, in-person gambling revenue is up more than 24% over 2021 and 2.6% over 2019.
January and February of this year both improved upon the same two months’ results in 2019.
Land-based revenue from slot machines and table games was down 3% in March 2022 compared to March 2019.
The marginal decrease suggests the industry is close to pre-pandemic performance.
But the majority of the city’s casinos saw in-person gambling revenue declines of anywhere between 7.5% and 29.2%. Only Hard Rock Hotel & Casino AC (+59.9%) and Ocean Casino Resort (+67.5%) generated more in 2022 than in 2019.
In-person gambling revenues for the rest of the Atlantic City market are down more than 17%.
Less money gambled equals less Atlantic City casino revenue
It’s not just revenues that are down.
The amount of money gambled — an important industry metric — also dipped last month compared to March 2019.
The total gambled in slot machines fell by more than 6% while table game bets declined by 15%.
Those same metrics were up 19% and 5.7%, respectively, last month over March 2021.
Busy summer season may boost job numbers
Employment is another area where Atlantic City casinos are struggling to rebound.
In February 2020, Atlantic City casinos reported 26,686 jobs. In February 2022 (the most recent available data), the casinos reported 21,842 jobs. That figure includes an unknown number of employees on a leave of absence.
“As the industry heads into the summer season, traditionally a period with higher demand for in-person gaming, we will begin seeing the restoration of some casino jobs in the city,” said Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) at Stockton University. “But it is unlikely to result in pre-pandemic levels of employment, at least in the short term.”