ATLANTIC CITY — More tourists, jobs and casino revenue all added up to a historic summer for America’s Playground.
Compared with the summer months — June, July and August — of 2017, the number of visitors to the resort increased by more than 260,000, the casino industry employed nearly 6,700 more people and gaming revenue was up by $54.8 million.
“The summer of 2018 was the best summer in recent years for Atlantic City,” said Kevin Ortzman, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and regional president for Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s Atlantic City properties. “Casinos saw significant gains this summer in employees, visitors and gaming revenue. This growth demonstrates that the casino industry’s investment in Atlantic City’s transformation into a first-class resort and business conference destination is working.”
Two new gaming properties, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino, opened in the resort on June 27. Combined, the newly opened casinos added nearly 8,000 new jobs and close to 4,000 available hotel rooms while creating more than $105 million in gaming and nongaming revenue in two months.
Total gaming revenue for the resort’s nine casino properties was up more than 12 percent in July compared to the same month in 2017 and jumped nearly 23 percent in August, surpassing $300 million for the month.
“The casino industry is and always has been an economic engine for the city, state and region,” said Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber. “This economic growth will continue as the casino industry strengthens its commitment to the community through new job training initiatives and employment opportunities.”
In July, the Atlantic City casino industry reported employing more than 30,000 people for the first time in almost four years. While the total number of casino industry employees dipped below that number in August to 29,743, it was still more than 6,700 employees higher than the previous year.
According to Atlantic City Expressway toll data from the South Jersey Transportation Authority, the number of visitors to the city increased in each of the three summer months compared with the same periods in 2017 and year to date. In June, total toll-paying traffic at the Pleasantville Toll Plaza — a location used by experts as a key indicator of visits to the city since it is the last toll area before entering the resort — was up 2.3 percent from the same month last year. In July, traffic numbers at the plaza surpassed 2 million and were up 5.4 percent from 2017. August saw toll traffic above the 2 million mark and was up 6.5 percent.
Through August, total toll-paying traffic at the Pleasantville plaza was up 2.1 percent for all of 2018 compared with 2017. Year to date, more than 13 million vehicles have passed through the toll plaza in 2018, compared with 12.78 million in 2017.
“The August numbers from SJTA clearly show continuing growth in visitation for the Atlantic City area,” said Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University.
Pandit said some of the growth can be attributed to an overall increase in the supply of rooms, dining facilities and gaming expansion, including sports betting, which became available at Atlantic City casinos in mid-June.
“The overall growth clearly demonstrates the power of a multifaceted resort that is providing varied experiences for visitors encompassing gaming, entertainment, food and beverage, lodging, the arts and a beach — essentially creating a fun-filled destination experience that visitors will cherish and memorialize,” Pandit said.