Atlantic City hit it big last year in terms of economic growth, DGE report says

By Emily Bader
Atlantic City | Jan 15, 2019 at 11:25 am

Atlantic City had a strong year in terms of economic growth, according to a Division of Gaming Enforcement’s report for December.

In 2018, Atlantic City saw strong gains in casino, sports betting and internet gaming revenues; high employment numbers; and increased tourism to the area due to the introduction of legalized sports betting, the opening of two new casinos, the South Jersey Gas headquarters, the Stockton University campus, the Boraie Development residential complex and the Tennessee Avenue redevelopment, the DGE said.

“The Atlantic City casino industry created an impressive number of job opportunities and job training programs this year for New Jersey’s hardworking families,” Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, said. “The casino industry’s success creates a ripple effect, boosting economic growth for other businesses throughout the city, state and region.”

“This past year was a turning point for Atlantic City,” Kevin Ortzman, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said. “In 2018, we saw increases across the board in gaming revenue, jobs and tourism. Sports betting and online gaming continue to make significant gains, and we look forward to building upon this success in 2019.”

The DGE report, which was released Monday, showed December gaming revenue for Atlantic City was more than $247 million. This is a 19.5 percent increase when compared to last year.

According to PlayNJ.com, New Jersey crossed a $1 billion mark in lifetime gross revenue generated by online sports gambling in December.

“New Jersey’s sportsbooks are in position to generate a $100 million handle from just that single game, which is the most significant single sports-betting event in the U.S.,” Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayNJ.com, said. “Nevada’s handle was nearly $160 million last year for the one game, and New Jersey’s young market is already showing many of the same trends. And we know operators in New Jersey will be aggressive in attracting bettors.”

The DGE report for 2018 showed:

  • Total gaming revenue for Atlantic City was $2.85 billion, a 7.5 increase compared to last year;
  • There were $1.23 billion in sports betting wagers in the state;
  • Internet gaming revenue was more than $298 million, up 21.6 percent from 2017.

“Atlantic City had an outstanding year, with gaming revenue up for seven consecutive months and eight months in total throughout 2018,” Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, said. “Two new casinos and the overwhelming success of sports betting helped attract new visitors in 2018.”

The report for the month of December showed:

  • New Jersey’s online and retail sportsbooks collected $319.2 million in bets in December, down 3.5 percent from $330.7 million in November;
  • Revenue from sports betting hit $20.8 million in December, down from $21.2 million in November;
  • New Jersey’s online sportsbooks accounted for $241 million, or 76 percent, of bets in December.

“New Jersey’s strong November actually bucks a trend in Nevada, where sports betting typically cools a bit in December,” Gouker said. “Growth in a typically slower month crystallizes the strength of New Jersey’s growing sports betting market. The popularity of online sports betting is a chief reason, making it easier for gamblers to place bets, even as the time demands of the holiday season are in full bloom.”

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | emilybader