Month after month, Atlantic City casino gaming revenue continues to grow. November 2019 proved no exception.
In fact, as reported in a Dec. 13 article on PressofAtlanticCity.com, according to the latest reports from the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the nine Atlantic City casinos achieved a new milestone in November. Even before the revenue for the final month of the year gets added, total casino gambling revenue, including NJ online casinos for 2019, has already eclipsed $3 billion.
Nov. casino gaming revenue up 16.5 percent compared to a year ago
The last time the local gambling industry reported results of this magnitude was in 2012. At that time Atlantic City had 12 casinos. But unlike in 2019, online casino gambling did not exist yet. NJ sports betting had not been legalized either.
This year’s Jan.-Nov. $3.2 billion in total gross gaming revenue generated by the Atlantic City casinos represents a 16.5 percent increase compared to Jan.-Nov. 2018. 2019 is the first full year that Atlantic City casinos offer legal sports betting.
June 2018 marked the turning point–it’s been onward and upward ever since
2018 was a pivotal year for Atlantic City. Total gaming revenue for the year only reached $2.86 billion. However, that was a significant improvement over the $2.56 billion reported for 2015.
The introduction of legalized sports betting and opening of two new casino properties–Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort–in June and the continued growth of online and mobile gambling contributed significantly. Moreover, the effect has continued into and through 2019. Starting with June 2018, total Atlantic City gaming revenue has increased for 18 consecutive months.
Besides the two new casinos, introduction and expansion of sports betting, and continued growth of digital gambling. Rummy Pandit, Executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, mentions another contributing factor.
That is the transformation of Atlantic City “from a gaming-centric market to a destination resort catering to multiple market segments offering gaming and non-gaming activities and services.”
What the $3 billion in 2019 casino revenue means for Atlantic City
Based on legislation passed in the State of New Jersey in 2015, Atlantic City will receive a total payment of $152 million in lieu of taxes from the nine casinos for the 2020 budget. This amounts to $20 million more than the most recent casino tax payment.
The downside for Atlantic City is that the substantial revenue payment also reduces the amount of investment alternative tax (IAT) funds by almost $14 million. This is money earmarked for the city to use for debt payments.
However, according to Lisa Ryan, a spokesperson for the State Department of Community Affairs, government officials anticipated and planned for this scenario. This should result in a 2020 budget that will “keep Atlantic City affordable for working families while providing necessary public services.”
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. praised what the casinos have been able to accomplish in 2019. He admitted that “we are far from the level of $4.2 billion that we were in 2006.” However, the casino revenue generated this year “is a step in the right direction.”
James Plousis, chairman of the Casino Control Commission, agreed. He said it was “gratifying to see another month of growth in Atlantic City.” Plousis further commented:
“All areas of the business, including slots, table games, internet wagering, and sports wagering, outperformed last year and contributed to a combined increase.
Moreover, this growth occurred not only because two casinos reopened in 2018. The seven preexisting casinos reported a combined increase of $30 million, or 14.4%. The data indicate that opportunities exist for all of the operators to compete in this market.
Summary of Atlantic City Gaming Revenue for 2019 compared to 2018
The following tables show at a glance a year to year comparison between 2019 and 2018 Atlantic City gaming revenue for casino games, internet gambling, and sports betting.
As the above tables show, gains occurred in all three categories. The biggest casino games moneymaker in 2019 was the Borgata ($69.3 million). Golden Nugget and Resorts were a distant second and third place, respectively.
However, Golden Nugget led the way in internet gambling. The $18.9 million this online casino generated in 2019 was also double the same leading online casino’s revenue for 2018. Resorts Digital came in second in 2019 with $11 million, a 207.50% increase over its 2018 online casino revenue.
In sports betting, Resorts, which is home to DraftKings sportsbook, has been the undisputed leader for two years in a row. In 2019, DraftKings contributed $9,181,132 of the $15,509,477 total sports betting revenue reported to date or close to 60 percent.
Summary and conclusion
Whether you consider casino games, internet gambling, sports betting, or all three combined, there is no doubt that Atlantic City gaming revenue has been trending upward steadily. This trend should continue in 2020.