2019 is a banner year for Atlantic City casino business, experts say

David Madden
October 26, 2019 - 6:00 am
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Atlantic City’s nine casinos are taking in revenue at a pace that would bring them back to performance levels not seen in years. 

Roger Gros at Global Gaming Business Magazine is not surprised total revenues are at $2.5 billion, with some of the nine casinos projecting a year-end total on either side of $3 billion. 

The last time that happened was in 2012, when there were a dozen casinos and concepts like online gambling or sports books were unheard of in New Jersey. 

Predictions were dire last year when Hard Rock Hotel Casino and Ocean Casino Resort were added to the seven casinos that lasted through the latest down cycle. 

“They each had something very unique and they’ve actually expanded the market a bit,” Gros said. “Now that’s not to say the other casinos haven’t been hurt.”

And there are other concerns, topped by the pending acquisition of the Caesars properties by Eldorado, based in Vegas.

“Eldorado’s a smaller company,” Gros added. “They may be looking to close one casino, and we’ll see which one it is. I suspect it would be Bally’s.”

The ongoing real estate tax issue for businesses and Atlantic City residents alike poses another problem. In fact, casinos have taken to making PILOT payments — payments in lieu of taxes — to keep their bills down.

As for this year, revenues are 15% higher than they were just one year ago. Gros credits several things for the improvement, including the arrival of online gambling and better marketing overall. The diversification of the marketplace is also a factor, including a greater emphasis on anything but casinos, like improved entertainment, dining and shopping options, as well as more convention space in town.

Gros expects great things next summer, too, assuming the winter’s not too bad.