Atlantic City casino shutdown extends into fourth month

It has now been over three months since the Atlantic City casinos shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To say the New Jersey gambling market has taken a hit during the shutdown would be a major understatement.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement recently released comparisons for the last three months, where the land-based Atlantic City casinos made a total of $85.5 million. To put that in perspective, Borgata is the top casino in the region and in March 2019 had revenue of $59.4 million.

The gaming revenue loss due to the pandemic has hurt Atlantic City and the state as a whole. One of the main reasons for that is the significant loss in state taxes from the New Jersey casino industry. The taxes generated from that industry help projects on the local and state level.

The 2020 New Jersey casino market began with a bang, as the new year brought in a 21-month streak for record-breaking revenue. However, that streak came to a crashing halt in mid-March when the casinos in Atlantic City were forced to shut down.

From March through May in 2019, New Jersey casino revenue was $653.7 million. The only revenue coming in for that time span this year was in the first half of March, so it is no surprise that the year-on-year revenue drop for that period was 86%. New Jersey gained $47.9 million in taxes last year from casino revenue and for 2020 that number dwindled to $6.1 million.

While New Jersey online casino revenue set a record in May, it has not been enough to carry the load. In the three months the land-based casinos have been closed, the online casinos have doubled their revenues from the same time period last year to the tune of $230.3 million.

Hope is on the horizon, as the land-based casinos are tentatively scheduled to reopen by the July 4 weekend. However, that may happen sooner, as there has been pressure on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to reboot the Atlantic City gaming industry as soon as possible.

There have been relief measures passed in the state legislature and the online casino industry is booming. Still, in strictly financial terms, the ship cannot be back on course until the land-based casinos open their doors and get back to business.

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