New Jersey’s gaming industry continues to grow post-pandemic.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) last month from land-based and online operations totaled more than $374.2 million. That’s a 35 percent gain on May 2019, when the industry won $276.7 million from gamblers across all verticals.
That’s the good news. What’s concerning is that the old guard — the brick-and-mortar casino resorts in Atlantic City — continue to see the market evolve, and it’s not in their favor.
The headlines can be misleading. May 2021 GGR was a 35 percent premium on May 2019, long before the world knew COVID-19. But last month, Atlantic City casinos reported land-based GGR $213.1 million. That’s an almost five percent reduction from May 2019.
Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City, wants the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to change how it reports monthly gaming revenue totals. He says the state simply groups together iGaming into a casino’s monthly performance, when a substantial portion of that money is divided with third-party interactive providers.
“We need to see the city revitalized, and it’s not going to happen when the media is reporting increases when they add in online revenue that is going to third-party companies that don’t have any stake in the Atlantic City game,” Lupo declared earlier this year.
Despite GGR at Atlantic City’s nine casinos falling about five percent from May 2019, James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said last month was strong.
Atlantic City’s results in May are promising. In comparison to pre-pandemic May 2019, the casino industry’s total gaming revenue was up more than 26 percent, which is consistent with the growth seen last month. Casino win was more than 95 percent of May 2019’s strong results, an indication that tourists are returning to Atlantic City,” Plousis said in a statement provided to Casino.org.
Plousis’ 26 percent reference is for GGR linked to Atlantic City casinos. It not does not consider sports betting win from horse racetracks and their mobile operations.
Atlantic City casinos have several reasons to be optimistic about the current month. June marks further warmer temperatures, school summer vacation is largely underway, and the gaming properties are no longer subject to any capacity limits.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) lifted capacity limits on casinos effective May 19. Bar seating, and consumption of food and beverages on gaming floors, as well as buffets, is also back.
Along with the $213.1 million the brick-and-mortar casinos won last month, GGR from iGaming totaled $108.1 million.
Online casinos won 26 percent more money from gamblers last month than they did in May 2020. That was a time when land-based casinos were closed. Sportsbooks, both retail and mobile, kept $52.9 million of the money wagered.
MGM Resorts’ Borgata commanded the largest market share. The casino resort reported GGR of $85.3 million from its physical casino, online platform, and BetMGM sportsbook.
Resorts was a distant second at $46 million, and Golden Nugget and its interactive gaming and sportsbook company Golden Nugget Online Gaming was third at $44.2 million. Hard Rock came in fourth at $41.6 million.
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