Atlantic City casinos won $212.4 million on their floors last month, which is 8% better — or roughly $15.7 million — than February 2019. Casino win last month was also 43% higher than February 2021.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from retail slot machines and table games inched closer to numbers experienced just before COVID-19 hit the United States. Atlantic City’s nine casinos reported February 2020 GGR of $218.3 million.
Though last month was still below February 2020 by 2.7%, the industry is inching closer to reaching pre-pandemic business levels. January 2022 casino numbers were more than 4% below January 2020.
While retail play continues to return, iGaming continues to surge. February GGR from interactive slots and tables, plus poker rake, totaled just shy of $130 million. That’s 39% better than February 2021, and 150% higher than February 2020.
With approximately $30.8 million from sports betting added in, total GGR for New Jersey’s statewide gaming industry for February 2022 was $373.2 million. That’s a nearly 30% year-over-year premium.
Warmer months are ahead — typically Atlantic City’s busy season, as its casino resorts butt up against the Atlantic Ocean. With February gaming numbers showing a positive trend from January, local officials are optimistic regarding the casino town’s immediate future.
“Atlantic City continued its positive momentum in February, with strong gains in total gaming revenue as well as casino win,” James Plousis, chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, told Casino.org.
The casinos have been busy this offseason making many improvements to their properties,” Plousis continued. “I’ve heard directly from casino executives and there is a palpable optimism across town for a really good spring and summer.”
Some of that optimism is likely the result of the nine casinos being afforded a $55 million property tax cut for 2022. The tax savings came from New Jersey lawmakers agreeing to reduce the casinos’ annual property payment-in-lieu-of-tax (PILOT) responsibility. They did so by removing iGaming and online sports betting income from the calculation.
Atlantic County remains in a lawsuit with New Jersey over the PILOT change. The property tax calculation without iGaming and online sports betting will cost the county an estimated $5 million a year through 2026.
Another major legislative win so far for the casinos is the ongoing discussion over indoor smoking. A growing coalition of state lawmakers and casino workers say it’s long overdue to end the state’s clean indoor air loophole for the gambling venues.
The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) disagrees. The trade group believes the immediate year after the pandemic’s most difficult period is certainly not when lawmakers should be mulling the cessation of indoor casino smoking.
“Now is not the time to enact a smoking ban,” said CANJ President Joe Lupo, who heads the Hard Rock casino in town.
Lupo points to both employment and visitation being at 20-year lows. A study on the impact such a ban would have that was commissioned by CANJ but conducted by Spectrum Gaming concluded that as many as 2,500 gaming jobs would be lost.
Proponents of ending indoor casino smoking say the industry’s threats are nothing more than scare tactics.
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