Strong Online Gambling Numbers Keep Atlantic City From Down Month

Yet another strong performance on the online gambling side helped propel Atlantic City to a relatively flat performance for the month of May.

The shore city’s eight casinos generated $219.8 million, representing a 0.6 percent decline over last year’s figure.

Breaking down the numbers, land-based casino revenue was down 2.6 percent over last year, while NJ online gambling revenue climbed 32.6 percent. The latter collected a total of $16.5 million from online gamblers.

Why the decline for brick-and-mortar casinos?

Matt Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, explained away the decline in land-based revenue, citing:

“Gaming win fell slightly in May, but a quirk in the calendar masks the continued improvement in the revenue picture. It’s common knowledge that weekends are the busiest time for Atlantic City’s casinos and this year, May had four Fridays and four Saturdays compared to May 2015, which had five Fridays and five Saturdays.”

The industry will battle similar conditions this June, which also has four Fridays and Saturdays.

Borgata lone bright spot among land-based casinos

Land-based venues in Atlantic City may no longer have to worry about cannibalization from online casinos, but they may have to fear it from one of their own.

The Borgata continues to be the city’s singular shining star, with revenue climbing 16.9 percent to $61.0 million in May. The only other casino to exhibit any growth whatsoever was Bally’s, up 0.2 percent to $18.2 million.

As for the rest, they experienced modest to heavy losses. Trump Taj was hit the hardest, as revenue fell 18.2 percent to just $15.1 million. The Carl Icahn-owned casino could very well be on the chopping block should November’s voter referendum allow for the construction of casino resorts in densely populated northern New Jersey.

Harrah’s and Caesars also sustained double-digit hits, while Resorts, the Golden Nugget, and the Tropicana experienced modest falloffs. However, given the peculiarities of the calendar, Resorts’ 1.3 percent drop-off can be viewed as a minor win.

Year-to-date totals cause for optimism

Despite the minor setback, the industry remains on pace to best its revenue totals for 2015.

For the year, Atlantic City has generated $1.0327 billion in gaming revenue, compared to $999.9 million through the first five months of 2015.

Now, here’s the interesting part: Of that $32.8 million growth, $18.1 million (55.2 percent) is accounted for by growth in online gambling. This despite online gambling only comprising 7.5 percent of industry revenue.

Unfortunately, it looks like the industry is going to have to start relying more on land-based growth should it hope to continually post year-on-year gains. That’s because online gaming revenues appear to be stabilizing between $16 – $17 million. May was the first month since September 2015 in which the industry didn’t post monthly gains.

Neighboring Pennsylvania makes it look easy

Even without the support of online gambling, Pennsylvania continues to outdo its neighbor to the east. The state’s 12 casinos grossed over $280 million in revenue during May, up 0.8 percent over last year’s mark of $278 million.

While it’s worth noting that the average Pennsylvania casino still pulls in less revenue than the average casino in Atlantic City, Pennsylvania’s industry is clearly not done growing — having posted gains in nine consecutive months.

That’s not to mention, the eventual legalization of online gambling in PA should boost revenue by an even larger sum than it does in New Jersey. The Garden State is on pace to eclipse $188 million in gross internet gaming revenue for 2016.

About the Author

Warren Jones

Warren Jones is involved in the legal New Jersey online gambling industry in a number of ways. Not only does he contribute to a variety of online gambling publications focused on regulated US online poker and online casino sites, he is also a game designer.