“The Q4 2020 report from the DGE marks the end of one of the most challenging years in the history of casino gaming in Atlantic City,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) at Stockton University. “A year that began with so much hope and the expectation of record-high revenues ended instead with record lows.”
The decline in profits and revenue didn’t come as a surprise considering that casinos were shut for more than 3 months and had to operate under capacity constraints and foot and beverage restrictions after reopening.
However, while things looked gloomy throughout 2020, here are four things that tell that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Online Gaming and Sports Betting Gave a Way Out
While Atlantic City’s land-based casinos were closed, online gambling options picked up significantly. This was evident as a 101% increase over 2019.
The biggest surprises came from three casino license holders that deliver iGaming and sports betting services.
Resorts Digital reported an increase in gross operating profit up to $21 million from $8.5 million in 2019, an increase of 148%.
Caesars Interactive Entertainment NJ reported up to $20 million in operating profit which represents a 45% increase over 2019.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City saw gross operating profit jump to $18.65 million in 2020.
2. Ocean Casino Resort Makes A Comeback
The Boardwalk casino that was once forgotten took the center stage in 2020 reporting $21.87 million in GOP in 2020 which places it at the front of all Atlantic City nine casinos. It is also the only casino to report a year-over-year increase.
The results, when compared to 2019, show an even more impressive performance by the casino. Ocean had reported a market-low of $6.7 million which means its 2020 figures represent a 222% increase.
3. Borgata Stuck in the Mud?
Borgata has ranked as the market’s top dog for a while and as expected, it recorded the largest decline in year-over-year brick-and-mortar casino gaming revenue. Its GOP was also the third-lowest in the entire market coming at $650,000. The figures are even more appalling when compared to the $209.6 million in GOP it recorded in 2019.
MGM Resorts International, the parent company had this to say as per the financial reports “…the Company is unable to determine when it will return to pre-pandemic demand and pricing, or if the property will remain re-opened, but the impact of COVID-19 had a material impact on the Company’s results of operations during 2020 and expects it will continue to have a material impact during 2021 and potentially thereafter.”
4. Atlantic City Casinos Looking Forward to a Rebound
While the year-end financial reports for Atlantic City casinos might not be the best news as casinos struggle to get back in business, experts and analysts believe that the worst is over and the rebound is already underway
Bokunewicz stated that the data in the DGE report “tells a story of perseverance and adaptation in the face of significant obstacles.”
Plousis said Atlantic City casinos, “made a significant investment to prepare a safe environment,” and, “proved that in-person gaming could happen safely.”
“In March, (NJ) Governor (Phil) Murphy announced that hospitality workers were eligible for the COVID vaccine and stakeholders are working together to prioritize vaccinating casino