Rising Tide Lifted All AC Casino Boats In First Half Of 2022

atlantic city tide

Even when the Atlantic City casino industry reports strong brick-and-mortar revenue overall, there usually are one or two among the nine properties that fall back, at least moderately, for the particular period in question.

But the first half of 2022 was an exception, according to revenue figures announced Friday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

From a 5% improvement by Caesars to a 27.8% leap by Hard Rock, all nine of the city’s gambling properties reported improvement on COVID-racked first-half 2021 numbers — with a collective boost of 18%. The other double-digit gainers were Borgata (26.3%), Ocean (24.3%), Bally’s (22.6%), and Golden Nugget (11.6%).

The result is $1.3 billion won by the casinos in the first half of 2022, up from $1.1 billion in that span of 2021.

No swoon in June, either

Total brick-and-mortar revenue for last month was up 6.8% compared to June 2021.

Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT) at the Stockton University School of Business, called that figure “encouraging, since the industry does not have the benefit of the pent-up demand that motivated much of last summer’s activity.

“Although down slightly [1.7%] compared to last month [May 2022], this could be evidence of a delayed impact from higher than usual gas prices and continuing inflation. The peak summer season is still ahead of us, and — with the uncertainty of the potential Local 54 strike settled for most casinos — the summer looks promising,” Bokunewicz added in the statement.

Harrah’s, Caesars, Borgata, and Resorts all saw revenue declines in June 2022 vs. June 2021 — although none were by more than 5.6%.

The month’s two biggest winners by far were Hard Rock, up 26.6% over the previous June, and Bally’s, which climbed 20.3%.

Bally’s, which has spent more than $100 million in upgrades over the past year, climbed just past Golden Nugget for eighth place for the month at $13.5 million vs. $12.6 million, and is within a whisker of escaping the basement for the year ($73.64 million in revenue compared to $73.67 million for Golden Nugget). Resorts also is in the crosshairs of Bally’s in the second half of 2022, with $13.7 million in June and $77.4 million for the year to date.

Where the money comes from

Slot machines are not considered the sexiest of casino games, but that’s where the money is. In the first half of 2022, the casinos took in $960.3 million from slots vs. just $349.8 million from all table games.

The gap also continues to narrow between brick-and-mortar casino revenue and its online gaming counterpart. The split was a neat 2-to-1 in the first half of 2021: $214.5 million from retail, $107 million from online casino. But in 2022, brick-and-mortar is up less than 7% to $229.1 million, while online casino jumped 24.1% to $133.1 million.

As for online poker, the numbers are down 5.8% in the first half of 2022 to $14.1 million.

In terms of all-sources tax revenue, the casinos and their partners have contributed $247 million to the treasury so far in 2022.

Photo: Shutterstock

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