February Revenue Shows Atlantic City Casinos Stumbling As Online Gambling Takes Over As King

Written By David Danzis on March 20, 2024
Ocean Casino Resort dealer with players for a story on the February 2024 revenue generated by Atlantic City casinos

A leap year has historically been a hit-or-miss proposition for Atlantic City casinos. Naturally, it makes sense to believe that the extra day in February gives gamblers another chance to part with their money, meaning the casinos typically come out ahead.

In February 2016 and 2020, in-person gambling revenue reported by AC’s casinos increased by double-digit percentages compared to the prior year.

But that is not always the case.

In February 2008 and 2012, the amount of revenue generated by table games and slot machines inside AC casinos decreased year-over-year, -7.6% and -5.9%, respectively.

Atlantic City casinos still shaking off COVID impact four years later

Count February 2024 was one of those down leap years for AC casino revenue.

According to monthly financial data released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, land-based gambling revenue reported by Atlantic City casinos last month was down 1.6% YoY. Collectively, AC casino operators generated just under $211.6 million from in-person gamblers.

Only three of the city’s nine casinos generated more in-person gambling revenue in February 2024 than in February 2023.

Even more concerning for AC casinos is how February 2024 compares to 2020, the last full month of operations before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the entire industry. Casino win — the sum of revenue from table games and slot machines — decreased more than 3% in the four-span, with seven of the nine casinos reporting less monthly revenue in February 2024 than in February 2020.

Year-to-date, the casinos in Atlantic City are collectively down 2.4% compared to the same period in 2023. Four casinos are posting a double-digit percentage YoY decline in brick-and-mortar revenue through the first two months of 2024.

Online gambling is the new king of NJ

This year is shaping up to be a pivotal turning point for legal gambling in NJ.

Through February, online gambling revenue is responsible for a larger percentage of total gambling revenue — the sum of brick-and-mortar casino, online casino and sports wagering — reported by Atlantic City casino licensees than all types of land-based gambling combined.

Of the $872.2 million in total gaming revenue year-to-date, $456.2 million (52.3%) was generated by NJ online casinos and online sportsbooks in NJ. AC’s nine casinos have won roughly $413 million (47.7%) from in-person gamblers. Retail sportsbooks inside the casinos have actually lost money (-$261,860) in 2024, a result largely due to favorable Super Bowl betting results for the public.

Three tiers of AC casino market

The Atlantic City casino market is now clearly divided into three tiers, notwithstanding internet gaming and sports wagering earnings since an unknown portion does not go to the land-based operators.

The top tier includes Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort. Together, the “Big 3” generated nearly $125.8 million in February, accounting for nearly 60% of the entire city’s monthly haul.

The next tier is occupied by Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Tropicana Atlantic City. The three properties — all of which are operated by Reno-based Caesars Entertainment — posted YoY declines in monthly revenue in February, with Harrah’s (-14.7%) and Caesars (-13.7%) posting the two largest losses, percentage-wise, in the city.

Bally’s Atlantic City (-13.1% YoY), Golden Nugget Atlantic City (+4% YoY) and Resorts Casino Hotel (-3.6% YoY) round out the third tier. Combined, the trio generated just under $34.5 million, accounting for just 16.3% of the industry total in February.

CasinoTotal Gaming WinTable GamesPokerSlot Machines
Hard Rock$41,116,719$12,966,883---$28,149,836
Ocean Casino$31,061,445$7,876,479---$23,184,966
Golden Nugget$11,606,843$2,062,375---$9,544,468
Photo by Wayne Parry / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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