ATLANTIC CITY — The first quarter of 2018 was not kind to the resort’s casinos, with gross operating profits down nearly 12 percent compared to the first three months of 2017, according to figures released Tuesday.
The seven Atlantic City casinos posted gross operating profits of $123.6 million through the first three months of 2018, a decline of 11.7 percent from last year. For the same period in 2017, the gaming houses reported profits of $139.9 million, based on data from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
In 2017, casino profits for the whole year were up 22.5 percent from the prior year, so keeping up with the growth was a difficult task, noted Casino Control Commission Chairman James Plousis.
“I am optimistic going forward,” Plousis said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “Sports betting will start soon, we licensed Hard Rock (Hotel & Casino Atlantic City) which will open next month and Ocean Resort (Casino) will be before us for a license so it can open this summer as well. Those three factors will enable the industry to draw new customers to see new casinos, try new forms of wagering, taste new restaurants and en-joy new entertainment.”
Third-party business sales and hotel occupancy rates were also down compared to 2017, 4 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
The silver lining for the first quarter of 2018 can be found in the hotel numbers, said Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University. Pandit noted the average rate per occupied room increased significantly from the first quarter of last year to this year. During the first three months of 2017, the rate was $103.42, while in 2018 the average was $121.47.
Another number Pandit said highlighted the resort’s financial stability was the revenue per available room. In the first quarter of 2017, the figure was $83, while in the first three months of this year it was $94.
“These are some good indicators that the market is strong,” Pandit said. “(It shows) the market is willing to pay a higher rate during specific periods of time.”
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was the quarter’s highest grossing casino, bringing in slightly more than $45 million. However, that figure is 27.1 percent less than the $61.9 million the MGM-owned property reported during the first quarter last year. Golden Nugget saw the highest percentage increase in gross profit — 61.5 percent, from $6.2 million to $10 million — largely due to the strength of its online market share.
Caesars experienced the largest percentage decline during the first quarter. The casino hotel’s gross operating profits plunged 38 percent, from $20.3 million to $12.6 million.