Table of Contents
Atlantic City casinos have been flip flopping in performance since COVID-19 hit the US in March. First, they shut down for safety reasons went for months without making profits. Then they resumed operations in July and began to recover gradually.
Nearly six months later, Garden State casinos are still in recovery mode. But after the latest news of working COVID-19 vaccines, there’s hope things will get better next year. In the meantime, here’s how the casinos faired amid one of the worst pandemics in the world.
A Growing Revenue Curve
In July, Atlantic Casinos recorded a combined income of $148 million, a significant decline compared to the same month in 2019. The operators bounced back in July, recording $199 million, a much better record than their performance in July.
In the usual fashion, slots are the biggest money makers in Atlantic City. They contributed $144.1 million to the $199 million collected in August. Table games came in second at $54.9 million.
AC casinos haven’t been performing at best despite the seemingly huge figures. And that has something to do with COVID-19 restrictions. For example, they can only operate at a 25% capacity, according to local laws. They also prohibit access to lots of games and services.
All the same, you can check the Atlantic City casinos map found on casinos.us to check all the operating casinos in New Jersey. Then you can compare their games and visit establishments with games you like.
5000 Jobs Lost and 25000 Layoffs
Nine of the biggest casinos in Atlantic City reopened in July with 4,261 fewer employees. Over 800 jobs have since been lost, mainly temporarily positions used to fill an uptick of business in the summer.
According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), 25000 more casino employees are also furloughed with no clear return date. That means over 30,000 casino employees could end up losing their jobs if the pandemic persists.
Fortunately, there’s hope some of the jobs will be recovered once casinos are allowed to operate at 100% capacity. What’s more, online gambling businesses in the Garden States have been hiring new employees now that the iGaming industry has been performing pretty well.
Boosted by Sports Resumption
One of the reasons why AC casinos have been laying off in large numbers this year is that the pandemic also affected sports betting. Nearly all major leagues shut down in March and many of them didn’t resume until July.
Fortunately, the return of sports has been a crucial boon for AC casinos. Last October, New Jersey’s sportsbooks recorded $803 million in total wagers, a 65% rise from the same period last year.
Interestingly, 93% of bets were made digitally. To provide some context, Borgata casino and BetMGM processed $4.3 million of the handle. By comparison, FanDuel and PointsBet welcomed $30 million of the wagers made in New Jersey.
In other words, casinos with online sportsbooks have been performing incredibly well this year. Football has been the primary source of betting income, generating $279 million of the $800 million handle in October.
Not Immune to COVID-19 Infections
Atlantic City Casinos have reported at least 250 positive COVID-19 cases since they reopened in July. To be clear, these are employees in the city and 60% of them recorded positive diagnoses in October.
According to public records, the pandemic has been indiscriminate, infecting executives, dealers, kitchen workers and housekeepers in equal measures. Of the 250 cases, 172 cases were people who work inside the casinos.
The remaining cases are people who work at restaurants and bars within casino premises. All the same, the number of COVID-19 infections represents 1% of all casino employees, which shows the casinos have been working hard to keep infections to a minimum.
Steady Online Casino Revenue
Following the lead of sportsbooks, online casinos have been the lifeline of many gambling businesses in Atlantic City this year. Last September, the relatively new sector generated $87.6 million in revenue to the state.
By comparison, casino apps generated $86 million in August and $80 million in July. In other words, their incomes have been steady, a sharp contrast from the land-based sector. When online sports betting revenue is added; New Jersey generated over $323 million from the online gaming sector.
For several years, Golden Nugget has been the clear leader in the AC casino space. Borgata has often come second but it occasionally exchanges places with Hard Rock, Bally’s, Caesar’s and Harrah’s Atlantic City.
This year, the competition has been pretty stiff. Golden Nugget still leads in monthly profits, generating $26 million in September. However, the figure was a 6% decline compared to August.
By comparison, Borgata Casino has been on the rise, recording $20 million in September to come close to toppling Golden Nugget. Caesar’s Casino, which occasionally rank third, was toppled by the Mohegan Sun Casino. It also suffered a significant 9.9% monthly loss in September, finishing at $8.3 million.
Fewer Guests at Casino Hotels
In 2019, over 27 million people toured Atlantic City for casino gambling according to visitnj.org. In 2020, the number declined to fewer than 10 million people. That’s not a surprise, though. The national lockdown mandated in March forced people to stay indoors for four months.
New Jersey, like many states, has since eased lockdown restrictions. But still, the number of tourists visiting AC is considerably low. Casino resorts are the hardest hit as a result of the reduced tourism.
Many of them make more money from hotel rooms, bars and restaurants than casino floors. So, if people don’t want to book rooms or eat at their restaurants, their profits plummet. Fortunately, people are adjusting to life amid a pandemic. And that means they are staying at casino hotels even when there might be risks.
In 2020, Atlantic City casinos were forced to shut down for 108 days to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. It’s the longest they have had to remain closed. And that proved to be a big blow.
Most of them furloughed or lay off hundreds of employees. They’ve also endured losses, albeit for a short while. That said, AC casinos seem to be recovering from the impact of lockdown, especially those with online sportsbooks and casinos.