AC casinos continue adapting to 'new' normal, June figures show

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AC casinos continue adapting to 'new' normal, June figures show
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In his remarks following the release of the Division of Gaming Enforcement’s (DGE) June 2023 numbers late last week, New Jersey Casino Control Commission Chairman James Plousis commented that, “Atlantic City’s casino hotels are building synergy between online and traditional gaming by providing customers the opportunity to enjoy the diverse experiences of a destination resort.”

Some of the toplines of that report include:

  • Brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the nine casino hotel properties hit $241.6 million in June — a 5.4% increase versus last year;
  • Year-to-date brick-and-mortar GGR was $1.36 billion — a 3.5% increase over last June;
  • Internet gaming win was $149.3 million, reflecting 12.1% growth compared with June 2022;
  • The June sports betting handle was $591.1 million — down 24.1% and 6.6% from this May and June 2022, respectively;
  • June’s sports betting revenue was $66.4 million — down 19.2% from this May, but up 69.1% from June 2022;
  • Total GGR reported by casinos, racetracks and their partners was $457.2 million in June — a 13.9% increase from June 2022;
  • Year-to-date total GGR by casinos, racetracks and their partners was $2.73 billion — a 12.1% increase from the previous year.

Plousis described the report as a positive start to the summer season for Atlantic City.

“Gains in all three reported areas – casino win, internet gaming win, and sports wagering revenue – demonstrate that online and traditional gaming are a winning combination,” Plousis explained. “Last month, casino win was the highest reported for any June in 11 years. Total gaming revenue exceeded $400 million for a fourth consecutive month.”

Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT), Stockton University School of Business, noted in her analysis of the report that in the first six months of 2023, Atlantic City’s casino operators have generated $2.47 billion in total GGR, approaching the entirety of 2015, 2016 and 2017, when the city claimed more than $2.5 billion in total GGR.

As further evidence of the segment’s growing importance to the overall gaming revenue mix, Bokunewicz also pointed out that over a third of 2023 revenue has been generated by internet gaming, which was recently authorized for another five years during the home stretch of the state budget process.

But there are some concerns about getting people back to all of the properties in this new, post-pandemic normal.

“Although the first six months of the year surpassed the same period in 2022 and every year since 2014 for brick-and-mortar GGR, when the city’s two newest properties Hard Rock and Ocean are excluded, the seven other properties fell short of their pre-pandemic levels,” Bokunewicz explained. “Between 2015 and 2019, the seven casinos consistently generated over $1 billion in brick-and-mortar GGR in the first half of the year. At $931.1 million for the first half of 2023, and $911.5 million in the first half of 2022, the properties have yet to achieve this milestone post-pandemic.”

Bokunewicz stressed that it is important to remember that the monthly gross gaming reports offer only a glimpse into the gaming side of the casino resort operations, especially as Atlantic City makes a concerted effort to diversify and expand its non-gaming options as it looks to attract more visitors, NJBIZ has reported.

“When the Division of Gaming Enforcement releases the second quarter report for 2023, which will also include revenue from nongaming resort operations, we will have a more complete picture of the state of the industry in Atlantic City,” said Bokunewicz. “If trends we saw disrupted by the pandemic reestablish themselves, we may see Atlantic City’s operators embrace a more ‘Las Vegas’ approach to their gaming and nongaming revenue balance with the greater share of on-property revenues generated by activities off the gaming floor.”l