It isn’t your imagination. Atlantic City had one of its best summers in recent memory.
The reasons behind this season’s success are fairly obvious. There are two new casinos in town, and you can bet on sports most places now.
The debuts of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino created a boom in town that carried over through the July 4 weekend. For the first time in a while, Atlantic City was the place to be.
For that matter, New Jersey is now the place to be for sports betting. The June 14 launch at Monmouth Park heralded a busy season that saw sportsbooks open at all but three of Atlantic City’s casino properties.
Summer 2018 will go down as historic for America’s Playground. Let’s take a look at the numbers to see just how good things got.
Tourism and Atlantic City
The key to any kind of success in Atlantic City is tourism. Quite frankly, the town depends upon an influx from the outside to buy hotel rooms, eat food, and most importantly, gamble.
The easiest way to see tourism increases is to check the traffic. This summer, all three months saw year-over-year increases at area toll plazas.
The Pleasantville Toll Plaza on the Atlantic City Expressway reported more than 4 million cars passed through its booths during July and August. Those two months saw increases over their 2017 counterparts of 5.4 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.
Overall, more than 13 million vehicles have swept into Atlantic City through that toll road in 2018. That figure is a 2.1 percent increase from 2017.
AC casino employment matters
With so many more people in town, businesses must employ more workers to handle the increased demand. In July, Atlantic City had more than 30,000 employees working in town for the first time since 2014.
The spike in hiring is directly attributable to the two new casinos. Indeed, as we reported last month, Hard Rock and Ocean Resort employ 8,200 employees alone.
This trend is a welcome change for a rather beleaguered workforce in Atlantic City. The years of casino contraction led to poor working conditions, low wages, and overworked skeleton crews trying to keep the lights on.
Revenue numbers surpass 2017
Of course, none of these improvements mean much if there isn’t more money coming in. Thankfully, this summer saw a river of money flow into Atlantic City and its casinos.
According to state gaming data, each month was an improvement in Atlantic City casino revenue over its 2017 counterpart. June broke through at more than $200 million, and both July and August took in $260 million in revenue. A lot of that is due to a rather robust NJ online gambling market and the opening of NJ sports betting (both online and retail).
In terms of improvement, those numbers are staggering. June 2018 was a 5 percent improvement over June 2017, July 2018 a 10 percent year-over-year spike, and August 2018 reported revenues over 20 percent higher than last year.
To put it in perspective, that means that August 2018 saw Atlantic City casinos make $6 for every $5 they made at the same time last year.
Overall, summer 2018 brought nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars to the shore. That figure has to be music to the ears of a city with $500 million in public debt.
As New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement director David Rebuck, said recently:
“It is an exciting time for Atlantic City and we look forward to continued revenue growth going forward.”
So do we, Rebuck. So do we.