“We see the continuation of an overall pattern of recovery for Atlantic City’s casino operators,” said Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT), Stockton School of Business, about the April 2022 numbers released May 16 by the Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Gross gaming revenue totals at brick-and-mortar casinos jumped to $235.3 million, an improvement over last month’s $216.6 million and last April’s $189.6 million. Year-to-date revenues at the casinos stand at $848 million, a jump of 24.2% compared to $682.7 million for the prior period.
“With the return of warmer weather and the promise of a solid summer tourism season on the horizon, we should expect to see brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue numbers gradually increase month-to-month as we head into the peak summer season,” said Bokunewicz.
Analysts had been concerned about some of the recent numbers at brick-and-mortars, especially as the world continues to normalize from the pandemic and face new economic challenges.
“Factors that contributed to increases in revenue last year – like pent-up demand and increased discretionary spending money because of COVID-19 subsidies – may be offset this year by inflation and higher gas prices, however we are not yet seeing evidence of this impact in the spring revenue numbers,” Bokunewicz explained. “Staffing shortages will likely continue to impact summer 2022 but may be mitigated by the return of foreign workers. While COVID remains a concern, the public seems to be returning to pre-pandemic social behavior by attending large gatherings, traveling more, and socializing with friends.”
It was also another blockbuster month for internet gaming. New Jersey’s online casinos and poker rooms generated $136.9 million in revenue in April, the third-most over a single month behind only March’s record $140.7 million and January’s $137.8 million.
April’s win was up 27% from $107.7 million in April 2021, generating $20.5 million in state taxes and fees.
“We keep looking for the ceiling in the online market, but New Jersey still hasn’t hit it,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for PlayNJ.com. “With inflation eating away at discretionary income, though, it wouldn’t be surprising to finally see a leveling off in the coming months after nearly 10 years of constant growth. But online gaming could be also benefit if customers choose to stay home rather than travel to an Atlantic City casino.”
Meanwhile, sports betting finally ebbed, as expected, in April, following a remarkable run through NFL, March Madness, and the beginnings of the NBA and NHL playoffs. NJBIZ reported earlier this month on how New Jersey’s sports betting is a national model.
Wagering at New Jersey’s sportsbook slowed in April to $927 million, but is still up 23.9% from $746.8 million in April 2021. April’s handle, which was down 17.3% from $1.1 billion in March, produced $50.3 million in operator revenue, down 8.2% from $54.7 million in April 2021.
“So far the national economic headwinds do not appear to be taking a significant bite out of the gaming industry,” said David Danzis, an analyst for PlayNJ.com. “But it is entirely possible that as everyday costs increase, people will begin to curtail their betting. Time will tell, but it is a concern for the industry.”