Atlantic City hasn’t been having the best of times in recent years, with what remains of its casino resort seemingly flagging behind other global gambling destinations. Imagine the surprise, then, with profit figures announced today, reflecting an uplift of almost a fifth in the bottom line of the City’s seven remaining casinos.
With revenue remaining reasonably static over the period, the increase in profitability over the first half of 2017 has been welcomed as good news for the city, and for the sustainability of gambling in Atlantic City long term.
Once a glamour destination for gamblers from across America and the wider world, Atlantic City seemed to have lost some of its mojo in recent years – thanks in part to the antics of the current Commander in Chief, one Donald John Trump.
Yet the doom mongers may not yet feel vindicated in their predictions of its demise. The new set of results shows an ongoing turnaround in fortunes for the resort, which continues to post impressive growth figures quarter on quarter.
The figures, published this week, came from the New Jersey Division of Gaming and Entertainment, reflecting a total rise of up to $1.69 billion on the sixth month period to the end of June – an increase of 0.6% over the same period in 2015.
That was met with a much more substantial hike in operating profits, which came in over 19% higher on the year, topping $308 million. Of course, this is still slightly behind the 21% rise reported in the first half of 2016, but still regarded as a very strong posting in present market conditions.
In the second quarter alone, profits were up by 11%, despite revenues declining by 0.5% to just over $875 million. Both prior periods for comparison included figures from the now-defunct Trump Taj Mahal, which closed its doors in October 2016 as the now-President prepared to assume office. This makes the figures all the more remarkable, confounding analyst expectations of a decline in performance.
The Trump resort has since been acquired by Hard Rock International, who have visions of transforming the casino into a music-themed destination. $500 million of investment later, Hard Rock Atlantic City is scheduled to open in 2018, and will be expected to contribute further growth to the resort.
The Borgata was the star performer, as has become the norm in recent years, posting an impressive 22% rise in profits to $129.4 million, followed by Harrah’s and Bally’s, both of which actually declined, but remained in second and third place respectively.
The Tropicana saw the highest proportional growth over the period, rocketing up 106% to top $35.1 million.
Atlantic City has suffered some difficult times in recent years, with several casinos shutting their doors amongst weaker than expected results. Some analysts had even suggested that the resort had had its day, and that the long term picture for gambling in Atlantic City was looking bleak.
The rise and continuing strength of online gambling, coupled with the strength of Vegas, and indeed international gambling resorts like Macau, had seemed to squeeze out the lustre Atlantic City had once held in the hearts and minds of travelling gamblers.
By 2014, over a third of the casinos in the city had shut up shop, leaving the resort feeling more like a ghost town than a bustling gambling destination. Yet the remarkable turnaround in performance, which concludes three consecutive quarters of double-figures growth, shows that there remains underlying strength in what Atlantic City has to offer.
As Matt Levinson of the Casino Control Commission so eloquently put it, ‘they must be doing something right.’