Although most of the surviving casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey are on the mend and posting profits, the long term trend for gaming revenues in the Boardwalk city are worrisome. According to a recent report by David G. Schwartz of the Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, entitled Atlantic City Gaming Revenue: Statistics for Casino, Slot, and Table Win, 1978-2014 total gaming revenue has fallen more than 47% since 2006.
Mr Schwartz notes that the ‘recent’ drop is not the only challenge facing the former #2 gambling destination in the world which began offering casino gaming in 1978 with 1979 being its first full year of operations. Table gaming has been flat since the 1980’s and based on real dollars (adjusting for inflation) table revenues have seen a large decline. He also notes that although slot numbers have historically been more robust, the current decline, which predates the recession should be cause for concern.
Las Vegas gaming revenues had a sharp correction with the formerly failing economy but reversed their fall – something that Atlantic City seems unable to do so far.
The report found the following trends most noteworthy (verbatim):
• From 1978-1985, Atlantic City gaming saw rapid growth, with average growth rates of 55.07%
(total), 57.39% (slot) and 53.15% (table) per year.
• From 1986-2006, the industry grew less impressively, with average growth rates of 4.37%
(total), 1.55% (slot) and 6.21% (table) per year.
• From 2007 to 2014, the industry has seen average decline rates of -7.69% (total), -8.43 % (slot)
and -8.07% (table) per year.
• Since 1984, slots have out-earned tables in Atlantic City.
• Slots increased their revenue share from 1980 to 2002; since then, table games have slightly
increased their revenue share, though in the past year both lost some ground to internet
Not mentioned in the report is the recent development whereby New Jersey voters will have the opportunity to approve casino gaming for two facilities in the northern part of the state. The November ballot measure would authorize two licenses to be awarded to currently active Atlantic City casinos. The licenses would carry a high tax rate and some of the revenues will go to Atlantic City.
On a brighter note, online gambling in the state saw steady growth in 2015. With 2014 as the first full year of licensed online casino operations, 2015 saw year on year increases for 12 straight months with the final two months each breaking records and November bringing in $13.2 million with December earning $14.04 million. Both numbers include poker revenues, which were nearly $2 million in December with the lion’s share going to Borgata/Party. Borgata was also the overall online winner for the year with a slight increase from last year, followed by Tropicana who posted about 45% in increased revenues.