AC Casino Earnings Back Above Pre-COVID Figures

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The nine Atlantic City casinos reported a robust $339.3 million in combined gross operating profits in the first half of 2022, according to figures announced Monday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. That total tops even a high-water mark of $294.5 million posted in 2018, which was the most profitable first half for the casinos since at least 2014.

While net revenue doesn’t always precisely mirror profits, the revenue of $1.55 billion for January through June also is the highest in the nine years of financial figures provided on the DGE website.

Profit is up 20.9% and revenue up 19.9% over the first half of 2021, but more impressive is that the numbers this year also beat the figures from pre-COVID 2019 of $245.1 million and $1.51 billion, respectively.

It’s also notable that profit increases from 2019 to 2022 are higher compared to revenue — an indication, experts have concluded, that the casinos have been able to trim their overhead costs while taking in just as much revenue.

“Casino operators have continued to leverage lessons learned during the pandemic to balance expenses with consumer demand,” Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT), Stockton University School of Business, said in a statement. “Amid uncertainties in the market — from the continued influence of public health concerns to inflation and raised fuel prices — the industry as a whole has learned to adapt and operate profitably.”

Profits for the city’s casino industry have more than tripled from the first half of 2014 vs. the same period in 2022, while revenue is up a little more than 50% in that same span.

Which casinos made the most money?

All but one of the nine Atlantic City casinos are in the black for the first half of 2022 — just as they were in the first half of 2021.

Perennial market leader Borgata maintained its top spot with a profit of $88.1 million, well ahead of runner-up Hard Rock — the leader among the six Boardwalk properties at $65 million.

Tropicana, which was No. 3 in the first-quarter profit rankings, maintained its place at $50.1 million for the year.

Harrah’s ($37.3M) and Ocean ($34.1M) flip-flopped at No. 4 and No. 5 for the half-year as opposed to just the first quarter. Caesars ($24.8M) held steady on No. 6.

Golden Nugget ($14.8M) still leads the third tier, while Resorts at $6.8M greatly improved on its first-quarter number of a mere $536,000 in profit.

Bally’s is spending $100 million on upgrades to its property, but the results don’t yet show in the bottom line. A $10M loss in the first half of 2021 has been followed by a $10.6M loss so far in 2022.

Cheapest, most expensive hotel rooms

One casino stands alone in average rate per occupied room: Ocean, at $234.95 so far in 2022.

Rooms at Borgata, Bally’s, Caesars, Tropicana, and Harrah’s all have been going for $155-$170 per night.

The least expensive rooms are at Hard Rock ($137.65), Golden Nugget ($132.80), and, as usual, Resorts ($117.08).

Ocean impressively has managed to score the highest occupancy rate (86.5%) in spite of having by far the most expensive rooms. Hard Rock — which, like Ocean, opened in mid-2018 — was in a virtual dead heat at 86.4%.

Golden Nugget, which offers only 717 of the 15,100 total rooms available at the nine casinos, nonetheless could manage only a 49.6% occupancy rate. That’s more than 20% below the industry average so far in 2022.

Fine print for the finance-minded

Net revenue is defined by the DGE as “casino revenue, less all promotional allowances, plus room revenue, food and beverage revenue, and other revenue as reflected on each casino licensees’ income statement.”

Gross operating profit, per the agency’s report, is “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, charges from affiliates, and other miscellaneous items as reflected on each casino licensees’ income statement.”

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