* Bally's * Borgata * Caesars * Golden Nugget * Hard Rock
* Ocean Casino Resort * Resorts * Tropicana
Easter Sunday 1904 crowds on Atlantic City boardwalk in film by Thomas Edison
In 1976, New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling limited to Atlantic City. After the subsequent enactment of legislation setting standards for the licensing of the casinos, the first casino-hotel, Resorts Atlantic City, opened in May 1978. Resorts and the casino-hotels which followed experienced strong initial growth, but by the mid-1980s their regional monopoly began to decline with new competition in nearby states such as Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The failure of the casino-hotel industry and the state and local governments to invest in diversifying Atlantic City with attractions other than gambling also contributed to the decline as newer casino resorts gradually eroded the City's market. From 2006 through 2020, Atlantic City casino revenue declined by over 40%, with the fall in revenue from gambling within the casinos partially offset by rapid growth in sports gambling and online wagering.
Within the City, the opening of the new Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in July 2003 also adversely impacted its older competitors, some of which had implemented costly expansion and renovation projects in anticipation of the new property. In the next few years, however, the industry experienced a sharp drop in visitors weakening its financial position, exacerbated by the high debt burdens from expansion costs and the economic recession which took hold in 2008. Commencing in 2007, for the first time in the City's history, total casino revenue fell from the year before, an annual decline which continued through 2015--marking a precipitous fall from the peak of $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.6 billion in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, modest growth was restored, but only due to the addition of new revenue from Internet gambling.
In 2014, four of the then twelve casino-hotels closed, including the new Revel Casino, which opened in 2012 after a construction cost exceeding $2.4 billion, but declared bankruptcy two separate times before closing in September 2014. In October 2016, the Trump Taj Mahal, which had been acquired out of bankruptcy by investor Carl Icahn, closed after a prolonged strike by its employees. Atlantic City's municipal government also was placed under state management in November 2016 pursuant to legislation authorizing a takeover to restructure its operations and finances.
In June 2018, two of the previously closed casinos--Revel and Trump Taj Mahal--were re-opened following bankruptcy reorganization under new ownership and new names, with the former Revel now the Ocean Resort Casino and the Taj Mahal as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The May 2018 decision of the US Supreme Court allowing New Jersey and other states to authorize sports gambling--which some Atlantic City casinos began offering in the summer of 2018--also assisted the recovery of the Atlantic City gaming market. In 2022, however, the commencement of sports gambling in New York State is expected to cut New Jersey's sports gambling revenue by an estimated 20%.
The COVID-19 Pandemic, however, significantly slowed the industry's recovery, with its casino-hotels closed for over three months during the peak of the lockdowns in spring and summer of 2020. Atlantic City’s gambling market lost around 80% of its 2019 profit in 2020, with its casino win declining by 44%. The COVID-19 shutdown resulted in the City's unemployment reaching 16%, the third-highest in the US. By the summer of 2021, however, the industry was strengthening its financial position, a recovery which continued through 2022.
New Jersey’s gambling revenue matched its all-time high of $5.2 billion in 2022, up 10% from a year earlier and matching a level last seen in 2006, but only half that amount was won by casinos from in-person gamblers.
The 2022 number was reached with support from internet gambling and sports betting--revenue streams that help contribute to the bottom line but are also heavily shared with third parties such as sports books and tech platforms. Internet Gaming Win reported by casinos and their partners was $1.66 billion, reflecting growth of 21.6% compared to $1.37 billion for the prior year-to-date period. Sports Wagering Gross Revenue reported by casinos, racetracks, and their partners was $763.0 million for the year-to-date, reflecting a 6.5% decline when compared to $815.8 million for the prior period.
Despite the limited recovery in 2021 and 2022 from the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the casino-hotel industry claimed that it faced potential closure of some properties without additional aid, and in December 2021 Governor Murphy signed legislation--over the objection of county and municipal officials--giving the casinos some relief from large increases in payments they were due to pay to Atlantic City, Atlantic County and the school system in lieu of property taxes. The bill does not affect the state taxes casinos must pay on internet gambling revenue (15%), online sports betting revenue (13%), or the 9.25% tax on in-person casino revenue.
* Investments in new projects on tap for 2022 in Atlantic City, 12/31/2021, APnews.com
* Atlantic City casinos bounce back, up 31% from a year ago, 9/21/2021, PressofAtlanticCity
* New Jersey governor signs aid bill for Atlantic City casinos. 12/21/2021, AP News
* New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Announces December 2022 Total Gaming Revenue Results, 1/17/2023, NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement
Postcard circa 1890 Image: NewJerseyAlmanac.com
Rehabilitation of existing property gave Resorts initial monopoly, led to highly successful operation until subsequent openings by competitors of newly-built hotels with enhanced amenities eroded its position> Resorts later subject of battle for control by Merv Griffin and Donald Trump, with 1988 settlement providing for Griffin ownership of Resorts Atlantic City and its Paradise Island property, with Trump assuming title to unfinished Taj Mahal project begun by Resorts, later opened as Trump Taj Mahal> Resorts sold in 2001 for $140 million and for $301 million in 1996, but depressed real estate market and slump in casino revenue led to near bankruptcy averted 2009 by surrendering property to creditors, subsequent sale 2010 for $32 million to investor group led by Dennis Gomes, former president of Tropicana and of Trump Taj Mahal, and Morris Bailey, an Atlantic City native and head of NY-based real estate investment firm JEMB Realty, with Bailey remaining as principal owner> After Gomes death in 2012, Resorts entered agreement with Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority owning casinos in CT, PA, LA and WA for Mohegan to manage Resorts in AC and all Mohegan casinos marketing jointly> 942 rooms and suites in either 27-story luxury Rendezvous Tower with largest standard rooms on Atlantic City boardwalk, or Ocean Tower, underwent recent $25 million renovation with tropical beach-inspired décor> Rated 2021 as 'Best Hotel Staff,' 'Best Dealers,' 'Best Craps,' 'Best Sportsbook,' by CasinoPlayer.com> Entertainment modifications adopted Roaring '20s theme following popularity of 'Boardwalk Empire' HBO TV series> 2022 plan for renovating rooftop pool, adding retractable roof to enable year-round use, also investing $5 million into new table games and slot machines, remodeling its high-limit slots area, and creating new VIP Asian-themed room>. Second-smallest AC casino-hotel with 942 rooms (Golden Nugget smallest with 716 rooms)> Dining includes gourmet Italian restaurant Capriccio (ranked #1 Best US Casino Restaurant in 2022 by USA Today 10BEST.com Readers’ Choice 2021; 'Best Italian Restaurant’ by CasinoPlayer.com> Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, with nightly live entertainment and tiki bar> Also health club, spa, salon, Superstar Theater has hosted performances by Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Cher, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and Aretha Franklin, can accommodate 600 persons classroom, 850 for banquet and 1,300 theater seating> Conference Center with 24 meeting and function rooms, including 6,500-square-foot Atlantic Ballroom.
* Ratings & reviews: CasinoPlayer.com; Oyster.com; Booking.com
Online casino gambling
* Casino Control Commission, State of New Jersey
* Division of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety
* Casino Reinvestment Development Authority
* City of Atlantic City
* County of Atlantic
Media and reference
* Casino Association of New Jersey