Atlantic City casinos have seen significant changes in business during the Covid-19 pandemic. These changes continue to present challenges to the city’s nine casinos as 2022 approaches.
Seven casinos showed declines during November in the amount of in-person money won from gamblers, compared to 2019. A large part of that is due to a rise in online gambling and sports betting.
Last year’s 107-day closure forced many casinos to turn to internet gaming. The trend continued in 2021 as gamblers took to their cellphones, laptops and tablets to play.
Despite there being an abundance of synergies between omni-channel offerings, there has to be the right balance of marketing and technology to avoid online cannibalising land-based betting.
“The pandemic continues to have an adverse effect on our business, with land-based casino win down 5.5% for the year through November, and while online gaming revenue continues to see significant growth with third-party operators acquiring much of that market-share, it has provided another taxable revenue source to the city and state,” said Joe Lupo, President of the Casino Association of New Jersey, who also serves as President of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
The overall success of the internet and sports betting also comes with some drawbacks, said Tony Marino, a former Atlantic City Expressway executive who now writes a newsletter discussing the city’s tourism and casino trends.
“But the irony is that online gaming threatens in-person activity by suppressing overall visitor volume to the resort which, in turn, negatively affects brick-and-mortar gaming, city and casino restaurants, retail establishments and entertainment venues,” Marino said.
“The challenge in 2022 is for the industry to maintain national leadership in digital gaming while marketing Atlantic City as a resort with multiple world-class attractions worthy of in-person visits.”
On the upside, the drop in land-based gaming revenue helped contribute to state lawmakers approving an amendment to a casino payment in lieu of tax agreement.
Outgoing state Senate President Steve Sweeney said that without the agreement four of the city’s casinos would have closed. The Casino Association of New Jersey said in a statement the changes to the plan “will protect thousands of jobs and provide certainty and stability to the market,” while helping to improve Atlantic City’s infrastructure and improve safety in the resort.