Can Hard Rock Make A Run For Borgata’s Crown Atop AC Casino Competitors?

Upstart casino got close to toppling Borgata in April revenue numbers
catching up in revenue
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Borgata recently concluded eight months of legal wrangling with a three-year-old casino rival that it accused of “poaching” numerous executives from Borgata in a bid to take on the long-reigning champion of Atlantic City gambling revenue.

But it’s three-year-old Hard Rock — not Ocean Casino, the subject of Borgata’s lawsuit — that is proving to be Borgata’s biggest threat when it comes to brick-and-mortar gaming revenue.

Not only has Hard Rock been runner-up to Borgata throughout 2021, but the Boardwalk-based property got within a couple of whiskers of Borgata in figures that state regulators just released for April.

Borgata came in at $38.5 million for April, producing nearly identical per-day numbers as in January ($38.2 million) and February ($37 million in just 28 days). March was a modest outlier at $46.5 million.

Hard Rock, the former Trump Taj Mahal property that opened on the same day as Ocean did in June 2018, produced $35.2 million, or about 10% less than Borgata did for the month.

Borgata did have two 12-hour closures of its casino floor in April for work to sync the property’s technology with parent company MGM Resorts, but both of those were during mid-week low-traffic hours, so the impact would have been modest.

Where the rivals make money

The supplemental statistical data provided by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement shows that Borgata, as usual, was king of the hill when it came to slot machine revenue with $27.2 million for April. That figure alone beat out all other casinos’ total revenue from slots and table games combined — save for Hard Rock, of course.

But Hard Rock won the month in the table games category at $12.5 million to $10.2 million earned by Borgata. The latter boosted its overall edge with another $1.2 million from poker, which Hard Rock does not offer. (Borgata’s additional $1.6 million in revenue from betting on simulcast horse racing does not get included in these figures.)

That’s the first time this year that any casino topped Borgata in either category. Hard Rock’s table game revenue jumped about 50% over the average result from the first three months of 2021, so it’s possible the casino just “got lucky” in April.

The next four months — the biggest revenue period of the year in Atlantic City — will tell the true story of whether Borgata finally has met its match. The smart money, though, seems to be on Borgata — still.

The rest of the AC pecking order

The Ocean property, which began life as $2.4 billion Revel in 2012 before shuttering in 2014 and then getting reanimated as Ocean four years later, has placed third in all four months of 2021 for brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue.

But its $81.6 million in 2021 is barely half of Borgata’s haul of $160.3 million (with Hard Rock in between at $116.2 million).

Tropicana, the venerable Boardwalk casino that last year became part of the Caesars family, is fourth at $69.9 million while landing in that exact slot three out of four months.

Harrah’s, which edged out Tropicana for fourth in April, is in the fifth spot for 2021 at $68.3 million. That’s just ahead of Caesars at $65.1 million, meaning that the three Caesars Entertainment siblings now place in the middle three slots of the Atlantic City brick-and-mortar casino rankings.

Resorts — the first legal gambling hall outside of Nevada when it opened in 1978 — has been able to salvage seventh in all four months and checks in at a distant $44.3 million.

That’s better than Golden Nugget and last-place Bally’s — $40.6 million and $36.5 million, respectively. Bally’s, bought by Twin River Holdings, which then changed its name to Bally’s for branding purposes, got within $11,000 of Golden Nugget in April on revenue of about $11 million each.

Photo from Shutterstock

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