Annual report

Atlantic City casinos post revenue up from pre-pandemic levels in 2021 driven by Hard Rock, Ocean

Reading time 1:59 min

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement announced on Friday gaming revenue results for Q4 and full-year 2021. Based upon filing with the Division, Atlantic City licensees posted net revenue up 42% to $764.1 million in Q4, while for calendar year 2021, net revenue was $3 billion, reflecting an increase of 62.5%.

Additionally, casinos saw gross operating profit increase by 201.4% to $174.4 million for the fourth quarter, and 552.5% up to $766.8 million for the full year. Hotel occupancy rates also saw notable boosts: for the three months ended December 2021, the rate increased to 66.4%, which is 20.1% higher than the comparable period last year. The rate for the full year was 67.6%.

Most importantly, casino earnings are not only up from 2020 -a year in which pandemic-related measures forced casinos to close between March and July- but also above pre-pandemic levels. The $766.8 million operating profit not only far eclipsed the $117.5 million delivered in 2020 but also exceeded the nearly $594 million posted in 2019.

“This should help operators as they seek to make up significant reductions in gross operating profit from 2020 and finance the major capital improvement projects currently underway at properties throughout the city,” said Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, which studies the Atlantic City casino industry, according to Associated Press.

While Bokunewicz found the improving profit margins encouraging for the casinos, Joe Lupo, president of the Hard Rock Atlantic City casino and head of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said the increase above 2019 was mostly attributable to the performances of his casino and the Ocean Casino Resort. “You take Hard Rock and Ocean out and the other seven properties are flat since 2019,” he said, according to the cited source. “That’s discouraging.”

Only Bally’s reported an operating loss for the past year, at $13 million, although the figure was half the size of the venue’s loss a year earlier. Meanwhile, Borgata had the largest operating profit ($174 million), up from $650,000 a year earlier; while Tropicana earned $118.7 million, up from $18.7 million a year earlier.

The improved results are crucial as Atlantic City is set to face increased competition in the future from upcoming casinos in New York City. Venues in the city are also attempting to remain competitive by updating their properties and launching millionaire revamping processes.

The latest to announce a renovation project was Bally's Atlantic City, which is set to debut a 360-degrees rotating Carousel Bar adjacent to its casino on Memorial Day Weekend. The new amenity is the latest unveiled as part of a multi-year $100+ million revamp process launched under the casino’s new ownership to rejuvenate the property. The reimagined venue also includes new hotel rooms, hotel lobby and The Yard, a beer garden-style venue.

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