The majority of Atlantic City casinos saw in-person gambling revenue drop in May, resulting in the market’s second consecutive monthly decline.
According to data released Monday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the casinos reported $227.3 million in revenue from table games and slots last month. In May 2022, AC’s casinos generated $233 million from their core gambling business.
Seven of the city’s nine casinos posted year-over-year decreases in land-based gambling revenue, a concerning trend dating back two summers. The growth of NJ online casinos and NJ sports betting revenue has distracted most industry observers from the reality that AC’s casino market is stagnant except for a couple of operators.
The good news is that in-person Atlantic City casino revenue from the entire market is above 2019 levels ($222.9 million).
Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) at Stockton University, noted:
“This is the continuation of a return to pre-pandemic levels, but not the amount of growth many may have hoped to see from this sector. Traditional gaming products like slots and table games are not growing as quickly as newer products (for example, online slots and mobile sports betting). This hints at a lasting change in consumer behavior as casino patrons have made these newer products part of their regular casino experience.”
Year-to-date, Atlantic City casino revenue has already exceeded $1.1 billion from in-person gamblers, which is more than 3% above last year’s pace.
Ocean Casino Resort generated just under $29.8 million for the month, a 17.3% year-over-over increase. The Boardwalk casino has reported more than $155 million in gambling revenue so far in 2023, nearly 19% higher than through the first five months of 2022.
Bally’s Atlantic City is starting to turn a corner under new ownership and more than $100 million in capital reinvestment. The $13.2 million in gaming revenue reported by Bally’s is a 4.2% increase compared to last year.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa remains the AC market leader, posting May gambling revenue of more than $60.5 million. However, that total is a 4.5% decrease from last spring and the second month of diminishing returns for the MGM Resorts International property.
The market’s No.2, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, also showed some vulnerability for the second month in a row. After a slight dip in April, Hard Rock’s gambling revenue in May fell 6.5% to $38.8 million.
Caesars Entertainment’s three Atlantic City casinos — Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Tropicana Atlantic City — have been hovering around the $20 million monthly revenue mark for the better part of two years. May was more of the same. All three generated less revenue in May ’23 versus May ’22. Caesars ($18.3M, -9.6%), Harrah’s ($19M, -10.3%) and Tropicana ($21.6M, -0.2%) have received more than $400 million in upgrades, renovations and new amenities since 2021.
The city’s two smallest properties, Resorts Casino Hotel and Golden Nugget Atlantic City, both posted Y-o-Y dips with percentages that look worse than the real dollar declines. Resorts was down 5% in May, generating just under $13.5 million. Meanwhile, Golden Nugget’s $12.7 million was a shade shy of last May’s $12.8 million.