A Variety Of Sources Providing Atlantic City Casino Revenue Boost

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The Atlantic City casino industry is benefiting from the addition of sports betting last summer — but that’s far from the only reason why business is booming.

The whopping $49 mm increase in total gaming revenue in February compared to February 2018, per figures announced this week by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, includes a $13 mm boost from sports betting.

The 24% year-over-year increase to $241 mm, however, also features a $15 mm boost in additional win at slot machines, $11 mm more at table games, and $10 mm in added online casino gaming revenue.

Can the industry produce a 10th consecutive month of revenue increase in March? It would be “Madness” to think it won’t, given an expected large boost in visitation now that gamblers for the first time will have a legal sports betting option on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — and plenty of other sporting events — as part of the equation.

More slices of the Atlantic City gambling pie

The news is not quite as rosy for holdover casino operators. Of that $26 mm boost in brick-and-mortar casino revenue, that is more than accounted for by the opening of Hard Rock Casino ($21 mm) and Ocean Resort ($14 mm). These casinos formerly were Trump Taj Mahal and Revel, respectively, before the relaunches last June.

Still, two of the seven holdover casinos saw a boost last month compared to February 2018: Caesars, up 11% to $19 mm, and Resorts, up 23% to $15 mm.

Resorts, the first Atlantic City casino to open in 1978, continues to climb from what in recent years had been a traditional bottom rung. In February, it beat out both Ocean Resort and Bally’s ($13 mm).

Even with an 8% decline off the previous February, Borgata still crushed its rivals at $51 mm. Runners-up Tropicana and Harrah’s collected $24 mm apiece, combining for less than Borgata’s number alone.

For Atlantic City and the state budget, these numbers work well as long as the nine casinos — each with several thousand full-time jobs — remain viable, with added casino tax revenues as well as other taxes getting a boost.

But the bigger benefit would come if the industry can gets its holdovers back to previous numbers even as the new casinos grow the overall figures.

The Atlantic City casino industry total revenue grew every year from inception through 2006, when it peaked at $5.2 billion. The advent of casinos in Pennsylvania and New York that year were the main driver of nine straight years of decline that followed.

The bottom came at $2.5 billion in 2015, but three straight years of rebounds followed, with 2018’s figure climbing back to $2.9 billion. More annual increases seem ensured thanks to online casino gaming, which debuted quietly in late 2013 before catching on the past few years, and sports betting amplifying that bottom line.

The online casino roll call

Golden Nugget ruled the online casino world in the city once again, with a 36% jump to $11 mm that nearly matched the industry’s overall 44% boost in this sector.

But look out for Resorts Digital, the casino’s online gaming arm that is benefiting greatly from crossover appeal with its deal with DraftKings that allows for fairly seamless sports betting and online casino play.

Resorts Digital leapfrogged Borgata last month into the second slot online. Resorts’ $7 mm won on internet gaming represents a 76% boost from its “standalone” online casino offering in February 2018.

Borgata held off Caesars and Tropicana with its $5 mm in winnings for the month.

The state collected $21 mm in taxes overall from casinos, online casino gaming, and sports betting in February, matching the previous month’s tally. Hard Rock and Tropicana each had their first full month of online casino gaming operations in February, and it will be worth watching whether those offerings grow the pie or take a bite out of the existing online operators.

Photo by Racheal Grazias / Shutterstock.com

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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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