With five of Atlantic City’s twelve casinos having been closed since 2014, the former East Coast gambling hub has looked more and more like a patient on life-support. And with extensive lobbying this past year for three new casinos to be built in North Jersey, many people were starting to write off Atlantic City as a casino gambling destination.But then, a glimmer of hope arrived when New Jersey voters defeated a referendum in November that would have allowed a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for the construction of the new casinos.
And now, some good news for Atlantic City. For the first time in a decade, Atlantic City casinos have posted an annual gaming revenue gain. The credit for that gain is mostly due to the casino’s online gambling operations. But hey, a gain is a gain.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released figures on January 12, 2017 showing brick and mortar casino gaming revenue of $189.7m for December 2016, which represented a 6.8% gain over December 2015. State licensed online gambling sites accounted for $18.4m which increased the year-on-year gain to 8.6%.
The gaming figures for December were attributed to a strong showing at Atlantic City’s gaming tables which recorded revenue of $58.4m for a 22.8% increase. Slots accounted for $131.3m for a 1% gain. All seven of Atlantic City’s remaining casinos were in positive territory, with Borgata leading the way, reporting revenue of $57.1m for a 3.7% year-on-year increase. Caesars showed the largest increase at 32.6% on revenue of $29.7m. The Tropicana and Golden Nugget also did well with double digit gains of 27% and 25%.
Matt Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said that New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday night contributed strongly to the increased December revenue figures. He commented that the increased revenue numbers were a hopeful sign that Atlantic City was “entering a stable environment now.”
Online gambling revenue was definitely a factor for the turn-around in gaming revenue. For the first time in ten years, Atlantic City showed a year-on-year increase. For 2016, brick and mortar casinos generated $2.406b, which was actually a decline of 0.3% from 2015’s totals. But when adding in the $196.7m generated by state-licensed online gambling sites for a total of $2.602b, Atlantic City casinos had a 1.5% increase.
so much competition from new casinos across the northeastern U.S., it is pretty much an impossibility for Atlantic City to ever repeat it’s heyday in 2006, when gaming revenue peaked at $5.2b. But even though a 1.5% increase may seem like a baby step, after ten years of falling revenue, any increase on the right side of the ledger is positive news.