ATLANTIC CITY — Online gaming and sports betting could not come to the rescue in November, as significant year-over-year declines in brick-and-mortar casino revenue resulted in a nearly 10% overall dropoff for the entire industry.
Atlantic City’s nine casinos reported $260.86 million in total gaming revenue last month, according to data released Monday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, compared with $288.6 million in November 2019.
Statewide, the total amount of sports wagers set a new monthly record with more than $931.6 million in bets placed. That figure includes retail sportsbooks in Atlantic City casinos and the state’s three licensed racetracks, as well as online and mobile sites.
The casino industry has reported $2.37 billion in total gaming revenue through the first 11 months of 2020, down 21.5% from the same period last year. The decline in annual total gaming revenue will have an adverse impact on Atlantic City’s 2021 budget, as casino payments in lieu of property taxes are directly tied to the industry’s reported performance.
November’s reported casino win — revenue from table games and slot machines — was down more than $77 million year over year. Through November, casino win for all nine properties is down nearly 45% compared to 2019, generating $1.37 billion this year.
Atlantic City’s casinos, like all leisure, hospitality, entertainment and gaming operations, have been negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus and government-imposed restrictions.
Casinos were closed, by order of the governor, for nearly four months earlier this year, but online gaming and sports betting were allowed to continue.
“Land-based gaming had gained ground in September and October. But, the start of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, followed by N.J. Executive Order 194, which, effective Nov. 12, required indoor food and beverage options to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., likely contributed to the decline in November,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University. “A much-needed holiday bump from Thanksgiving weekend, usually a busy time for casinos, was limited this year by travel restrictions between states and stern warnings about family gatherings.”
Online gaming has grown every month of 2020, including an 87% increase in November over last year’s $49 million. Year-to-date, online gaming has generated more than $870 million in revenue, a 101% increase over 2019.
However, Bokunewicz noted that while “internet gaming revenue ... continues to soften the blow of the shutdown last spring and current operating capacity restrictions,” it does “little to offset job losses and declines in nongaming revenues.”
“The resurging public health crisis drove down business in Atlantic City during November,” said James Plousis, chairman of the state Casino Control Commission, adding that, “continued growth in internet gaming provided an important source of revenue for the operators,” as well as taxes to the state Casino Revenue Fund, which supports programs for seniors and disabled residents.
“With Atlantic City casinos struggling to remain open during the pandemic, the tax revenue generated by online casino games in particular has never been more needed,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “New Jersey’s online casinos are the envy of every state with legalized online gaming and a model for any state looking to pass legislation in the coming year.”
Sports betting is also generating national envy for the Garden State, as the last four months have set monthly records for handle, or the total amount wagered. More than $5 billion has been wagered in New Jersey this year and analysts believe the market could eventually see a single month where $1 billion is wagered.