The shutdown of all Atlantic City casinos in mid-March 2020 led to industry casino revenue of a paltry $85.5 million for the month. By a year later, March revenue had bounced most of the way back, to $184.9 million, amid some continuing pandemic-related limitations.
Now, two years after the COVID shutdowns began, revenue in the city is finally all the way back to pre-2020 levels.
According to figures released Monday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the March 2022 revenue figure was $216.6 million. That number nearly equals the $223.2 million in March 2019 and compares favorably with the $192.9 million in March 2018 and $200.1 million in March 2017.
Charting the AC winners and losers
Turning to first-quarter (January to March) revenue figures for 2022 and 2021, Borgata was comfortably in the lead in both cases — with three-month 2022 revenue of $156.2 million accounting for more than one-quarter of the nine-casino city industry’s total.
Hard Rock grabbed silver in both quarters, while Ocean Casino — which opened on the same day as Hard Rock in mid-2018 — claimed another bronze.
The middle tier shifted a bit, with Harrah’s climbing from fifth in 2021’s first quarter to fourth in the first quarter of 2022, Caesars moving from sixth to fifth, and Tropicana sliding from fourth to sixth.
In the lower rung, Golden Nugget jumped a notch to seventh at the expense of Resorts, while Bally’s — in the midst of a massive $120 million overhaul of its premises — took up the rear in both quarters. But Bally’s got within $3 million in revenue of its two main rivals, a clear sign of progress for the 43-year-old Boardwalk property.
A deeper dive into 2022 vs. 2019
It’s worth looking at what the Atlantic City casino industry was like in first quarter of pre-COVID 2019 compared to where it is now in near-normal conditions.
Back then, Borgata, as usual, was the leader, and its $160.4 million opening quarter was almost identical to its pace-setting 2022 mark.
But No. 2 in 2019 was Tropicana at $72.4 million — four spots better than it was in first-quarter 2022 at just $51.2 million. That suggests that the eight new restaurants planned by parent company Caesars Entertainment to open this year may be well-timed as Tropicana tries to regain its mojo.
Third-place first-quarter 2019 finisher Harrah’s settled for fourth in 2022 so far, while 2019’s No. 4, Hard Rock, jumped to second place so far in 2022.
Venerable Caesars on the Boardwalk took the middle ground of fifth place in both quarters, while Golden Nugget dropped one slot from sixth in 2019 to seventh in 2022.
Resorts dropped a spot to eighth in 2022, but the big change was Ocean climbing from No. 8 in 2019 to third in 2022 off a slew of major investments in the property and openly touted ambitions to take on marketplace leader Borgata in the coming years.
Bally’s was the ninth-place casino in the opening quarters of both 2019 and 2022.