Atlantic City casinos enjoyed the unofficial start of the shoulder season in October, with in-person gambling revenues increasing ever so slightly compared to a year earlier.
But the devil is in the details.
One casino’s performance — Ocean Casino Resort — is the primary reason October’s land-based revenue results were not an overall disaster for all nine Atlantic City casinos.
Revenue from slot machines and table games was up 3.4% last month over the same period in 2022, according to data released by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. The city’s casinos collectively reported just under $228.1 million in revenue from in-person gamblers.
Ocean Casino saves the day for AC revenue in October
However, the modest market increase is distorted as a result of a 53.3% year-over-year increase by Ocean Casino AC. The Boardwalk casino’s revenue went from $28.3 million in October 2022 to nearly $44 million last month.
Bally’s Atlantic City was the only other operator to post a double-digit percentage increase (14.9%) in October. According to data from the DGE, Bally’s reported $12.4 million for the month, a year-over-year increase of $1.6 million.
Four of the market’s largest casino properties were down in October, although it is not a coincidence they are operated by companies that were hacked by cybercriminals in September.
Borgata Atlantic City, an MGM Resorts International casino, and the three Caesars Entertainment properties — Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Atlantic City and Tropicana Atlantic City — were collectively down 10.3% (-$12.1 million) for the month.
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Chris Christie busting up mob rackets the last time AC had it this good
James Plousis, chairman of the Casino Control Commission, has a more bullish approach to October’s industry returns.
“Atlantic City recorded its second-highest October casino win in twelve years and year-to-date casino win achieved its best result in ten years,” Plousis said in a statement.
Through October of this year, in-person gaming has generated more than $2.4 billion in Atlantic City casino revenue, putting it 1.9% ahead of last year’s pace. Combined with NJ online casinos and statewide sports betting revenue, the gaming industry has posted over $4.7 billion, 10.6% higher than through the first 10 months of 2022.
Even more encouraging for the market is that October 2023 significantly outperformed October 2019 ($202.3 million), meaning AC is mending from COVID-19’s economic wounds.
“Atlantic City is on pace to surpass $5 billion in total gaming revenue this year, which has happened only twice before in its history, in 2005 and 2006 when there were twelve casinos operating. Atlantic City’s recent investments in the casino hotels and their attractions, together with the strength of New Jersey’s online casinos, are proving to be a winning combination for the gaming industry as well as the economy of the city, the region and the state.”
Can’t believe our eyes in AC casinos
Five casinos posted year-over-year increases from in-person gambling. In addition to Ocean and Bally’s, Hard Rock Atlantic City ($41.2 million, +5.8%), Resorts Atlantic City ($13.3M, +3%) and Golden Nugget Atlantic City ($12.2M, +1.6%) were also up.
The AC market leader, Borgata, was down almost 9% in October. The Marina District casino still netted $56.9 million last month.
Caesars AC ($14.4M, -18%), Harrah’s Resort AC ($17.8M, -11.9%) and Tropicana AC ($16.4M, -5.6%) all dipped below $20 million in monthly revenue for the first time since the early part of the year.
In a statement, Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) at Stockton University, also had a positive outlook on October’s revenue reports.
“Despite anecdotal observations suggesting a decline in on-property activity, the numbers for brick-and-mortar activity for 2023 year-to-date are favorable. With $2.4 billion in brick-and-mortar gaming revenue to date, casino operators’ year-end 2023 brick-and-mortar revenues are on track to surpass year-end 2019 and have a chance of surpassing year-end 2022.”