Atlantic City is back. After 15 months of being dealt difficult hands by way of mandatory closures and operating restrictions, the town’s nine casinos won nearly as much money from gamblers last month as they did in July of 2019.
Land-based gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled $276.9 million. That’s just 0.07 percent shy from July 2019 when the same casinos won $277.1 million. The gaming resorts hadn’t come close to matching same-month 2019 revenue since the onset of COVID-19.
Internet casinos won $118.6 million — up 35.7 percent from July 2020 — and a new all-time monthly GGR high for interactive gaming. It easily topped the previous mark of $113.7 million.
Sportsbooks, which include mobile operations and at the state’s three horse racetracks, kept nearly $55 million of the $578 million wagered. That’s an 86 percent year-over-year bonus.
All total, New Jersey’s gaming industry reported GGR of more than $450.5 million. That’s 70.4 percent better than July 2020, and a 35 percent premium on July 2019.
COVID-19 resulted in New Jersey’s iGaming and online sportsbooks thriving. As Atlantic City casinos were shuttered from mid-March 2020 through early July, interactive gaming platforms flourished, as they welcomed in a bounty of new players.
Concerns have been floated that a substantial factor of the gamblers who played in Atlantic City casinos prior to the coronavirus might remain permanently online. And recent media reports hyping monthly gaming data out of New Jersey have failed to acknowledge that brick-and-mortar play remained substantially down.
For instance, in June, Atlantic City casinos won $345 million from land-based operations, iGaming, and sports betting. That was a record for June. But brick-and-mortar GGR in June 2021 was down nine percent ($21.5 million) from June 2019.
July 2021 gives plenty of reason for optimism, and that the actual casinos on the shore can return to pre-pandemic market levels even with robust play online.
The casinos’ recent positive momentum demonstrates Atlantic City’s resilience and should bolster confidence in the recovery of New Jersey’s tourism and gaming sector,” explained James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.
“Atlantic City’s total gaming revenue rose more than 28 percent compared to pre-pandemic July 2019. It was the fourth consecutive month of growth exceeding 20 percent compared to the strong results of 2019,” Plousis added.
Slots Fuel Rebound
Warm weather, no COVID-19-related operating restrictions, and perhaps the return of indoor smoking led to pent-up demand being unleashed on Atlantic City gaming floors. And it was casinos’ old faithful that delivered the strong July 2021 performance.
Slots won over $204.6 million from gamblers last month, a nearly six percent gain on July 2019.
“Slot machine win was the highest for the month of July since 2013, when there were twelve casinos operating,” Plousis told Casino.org. “Slot machines drove July 2021’s revenue increase.”
One strong month doesn’t constitute a full-blown recovery, but it’s a start. August looks promising, as an estimated 38,000 people descended on Atlantic City this past week for a three-day outdoor Phish concert.
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