On Feb. 26, in my article for NJ Online Casino, “Atlantic City 2020 Casino Revenue Is Off To A Great Start,” I summarized the data on the revenue for January. Total gaming revenue for the nine Atlantic City casinos combined exceeded $270.5 million. That was nearly $50 million (22.6%) more than in January 2019.
Atlantic City casino revenue climbed even higher in February
Gambling industry executives have been anxiously awaiting for the February results. Would brick-and-mortar and online casino gambling and sports betting all continue to show the great momentum evidenced last year and at the start of this year?
The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement just released the revenue figures for February 2020. The answer is a resounding yes.
According to an article on The Press of Atlantic City, the nine Atlantic City casinos combined reported February gaming revenue of nearly $275 million. This represented not only an increase of 18.4% over February last year but also an increase from January.
February also marked the 21st consecutive month in which Atlantic City casino gaming revenue increased. The streak started back in June 2018, the same month that the two newest casino properties, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Casino Resort, opened on the Boardwalk.
According to Casino Control Commissioner James Plousis, revenue from slots, table games, internet gaming and sports betting all increased. In fact, sports wagering revenue has already surpassed $1 million during 2020.
Biggest February for AC casinos since 2011
Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, stated that the Atlantic City casino revenue for last month was the highest February since 2011.
Factors contributing to the high February 2020 total
One contributor to the strong showing in February 2020 was the extra Saturday, Feb. 29, due to 2020 being a leap year.
Another contributing factor might have been the milder than usual temperatures for this time of year. The marked decrease in visits to Atlantic City casinos occurring in previous winters was less evident.
A third factor was the increase in top quality entertainment, which also helped to bring big crowds to the casinos.
February 2020 Atlantic City casino revenue from slots and table games
Total revenue from slots and table games amounted to more than $218.3 million. Compared to February 2019, that was an 11% industry-wide increase. Only two properties — Bally’s and Resorts — reported less revenue in February 2020 than in February 2019.
Ocean Casino reported the biggest gain
The Press of Atlantic City, in its 2019 Best of the Press Awards, voted Ocean Casino Resort “Best Casino.”
I would have had a hard time calling any place the “best casino.” But if an award existed for “most improved casino,” no casino deserves that accolade more than Ocean.
What a difference a year makes! This once struggling casino property reported $20.77 million in winnings from slots and table games in February 2020. That represented a 51% increase over February 2019, when the casino was undergoing an ownership change.
No other Atlantic City casino exhibited a year-to-year revenue gain of that magnitude.
Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean Casino Resort, commented that February was an “incredibly strong month for the property,” and especially for slot play, which was up 88% compared to February 2019.
February 2020 online gaming revenue
Online gaming was another area where revenue continued to impress in February 2020. Compared to February 2019, online gaming revenue was up 63.7%. However, the internet gaming revenue of $52 million still fell short of the January total of over $55 million (a monthly record).
February 2020 sports betting revenue
February was a busy month for NJ retail and online sportsbooks. Kicking off with a bang with Super Bowl weekend and ending with a rare fifth Saturday due to leap year, February got plenty of sports betting action. The sportsbooks took in $494.8 million in wagers, a 54.4% increase over the $320.4 million February 2019 handle.
Revenue from Atlantic City casino sportsbooks and their online/mobile partners amounted to $4.78 million, representing a 23.2% increase over the February 2019 sports betting revenue.
Can Atlantic City and online casino gambling and sports betting revenue keep up the same pace in the coming months?
At this time, we don’t know. With March Madness canceled, the NBA, NHL, and MLS seasons all suspended, and the start of the baseball season delayed, sports betting handle is inevitably going to take a big hit. Initially, the plan was to proceed with the games but in empty stadiums. But that plan was scrapped in the light of growing health concerns.
As Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com, pointed out:
“We are in uncharted territory now…. The NBA is a major revenue driver for New Jersey’s sportsbooks. So the suspension of the season, in addition to the suspension of other sports, will undoubtedly have a significant effect.”
As of now, all nine Atlantic casinos continue to operate with full services. However, between now and the summer, attendance could drop.
Under the circumstances, it will become more important than ever for online and mobile NJ gambling websites to pick up the slack. I think that could happen, at least to some extent. Many players who might be unable or at least reluctant to travel to Atlantic City will play their favorite games on their desktop or mobile device instead. I also think there could be a big increase in new online casino players.
According to Eric Ramsey, another analyst for PlayNJ.com, “The Golden Nugget’s Online Casino already generated more revenue than its retail casino, and others have been closing the gap. That online revenue stream could prove vitally important in the coming months.”
Hopefully, NJ gambling websites will do their part both to draw in as many new players as possible and to ensure that their existing players keep coming back by consistently offering better bonuses for all players.