Atlantic City casinos rebound in March after long drought
By Bob Garcia
The nine casinos in Atlantic City saw GGR last month that they haven’t seen in two years
Atlantic City Casinos appear to be making an extremely strong comeback after being severely damaged financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to March reports, this has definitely been the best month for these casinos since the pandemic began to take hold early last year. There is still a long way to go because, compared to years ago, profits are still very low, but hope is on the horizon. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from table games and slot machines amounted to $184.8 million, representing an increase of 116% year over year.
This makes all too much sense as all Atlantic City casinos were forced to shut down operations in mid-March of last year, an order put in place by Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey. The state’s gaming industry collectively reported a total of $359.2 million in revenue. This represents a year-over-year increase of about 120%. MGM Resorts’ Atlantic City casino was the absolute leader with respect to GGR. The Borgata reported a total of $89 million from players, including $46.5 million at its land-based casino and $36.1 million online.
It appears that this year’s March had no problem surpassing last year’s, especially since market conditions were more favorable as it maintained a steady operation throughout the period, which was not the case in 2020. Still, it should be noted that several restrictions remain in place in Atlantic City. Casinos can only operate at 50% and that continues to have a negative impact, but the fact that GGR was higher than it was in March 2019 speaks volumes.
Obviously, COVID-19, the occupancy restrictions in place and a temporary smoking ban are “negatively affecting the market’s ability to fully recover,” said Hard Rock Atlantic City President Joe Lupo. Many advocates disagree with the temporary smoking ban and feel that it should be made permanent. However, the casino industry is fighting that initiative, asserting that they will never be able to move forward with such measures.