Survey: People planning to return to A.C. post-pandemic

Annual LIGHT outlook survey shows how harshly resort town was hit by COVID-19

Nearly half the people contacted in a survey by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University said they planned to travel to Atlantic City in the next three months.

And nearly three out of four said they expected to do so within six months.

Those were two of the positives of what — as expected — was a dour one-year retrospective on the impact of COVID-19 on the Atlantic City area in terms of visitors, travel, gaming and revenue by LIGHT.

“This report tells a story of fewer public gatherings, a shift to virtual/remote activities and the loss of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in the service sector,” coordinator Jane Bokunewicz said.

Business conventions were down tremendously.

There were 82% fewer meetings and trade shows — just 32 from February 2020 to February 2021, compared with 297 from February 2019 to February 2020. Nearly 600,000 fewer people attended meetings and conventions, representing a loss of almost $260 million in visitor spending.

Among other findings:

  • Total vehicle count on the Atlantic City Expressway Pleasantville toll plaza reflect the pattern of COVID-19 infections in New Jersey. The vehicle count was 73% lower in April 2020 than in April 2019, rebounded through the summer, then dropped again during the “second wave” of virus infections.
  • Revenue from in-person gaming dropped 48%; revenue from remote gaming increased almost 92%.
  • Total gaming revenue for the 12-month period declined more than 21.5% over the prior period. For comparison, total gaming revenue for the 12-month period that ended February 2020 increased 15.3% over the same period ended 2019.
  • Slots, historically the dominant source of gaming revenue, were overtaken by internet gaming revenues in the 12-month period ended February 2021. Slots represented 38.1% of gross gaming revenue in the period, compared with internet gaming, which represented 39.9%.