April Is Cruelest Month Yet For Atlantic City Casinos

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Online casino gaming and mobile sports betting provided only modest consolation for the Atlantic City casino industry in April, according to figures belatedly released Wednesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Those alternatives could only do so much, after all, in the face of the first month with no brick-and-mortar casino revenues due to COVID-19.

There are two similarly grim comparisons here.

April 2020 Atlantic City gaming revenues were:

  • $0 from land-based casinos
  • $80 million from online casino
  • $2.6 million from sports betting

April 2019 Atlantic City gaming revenues were:

  • $207.6 million from land-based casinos
  • $36.6 million from online casino
  • $21.2 million from sports betting
Note that online casino play more than doubled 12 months later – but that sports betting revenues were decimated (almost literally). For all the talk of the NFL draft and the fad of Russian table tennis and soccer in Belarus, they combined couldn’t hold a candle to April 2019’s MLB, NBA, and NHL action, among other offerings.
Just under $55 million was bet at legal New Jersey sportsbooks last month, compared to $313.7 million the previous April.

What a difference a month makes

The other comparison is to March 2020 – just one month earlier, but which had two weeks of sports and brick-and-mortar revenue, and then abruptly two weeks without.

In March, the city’s casinos earned $85.5 million from the traditional casino play, $64.8 million from online casino, and $13.2 million from sports betting (90% of which was mobile).

So there was only about a $6 million gain from online from March to April, compared to an $86 million drop in brick-and-mortar casino revenues.

Online poker enjoyed another big boost, climbing from $3.6 million in March – that was double the number from March 2019 – to a record $5.1 million in April.
The state took in $23 million in taxes from gaming in April 2019.
This April? Just $12.3 million, with a little help from slightly higher tax rates for online wagering over in-person rates.

Golden Nugget’s dominance in online casino gaming – its $27.6 million claimed more than one-third of the city’s market share – enabled it to suffer just a 5.8% drop in revenue last month compared to April 2019.

State regulators for years have released the monthly figures either exactly at 2 p.m. on a weekday, or a couple of minutes earlier. But these figures were delayed by more than two hours, with no reason immediately apparent.

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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