Pandemic Costs Atlantic City Casinos More Than 80% of Their Profits In 2020

The coronavirus cost Atlantic City casinos a lot of money last year. With profits plunging by more than 80 percent in 2020, according to figures released Friday by New Jersey gambling regulators.

Despite the dismal numbers, seven of the nine casinos still managed to make a profit, no matter how small, in 2020.

According to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, nine casinos collectively posted $117.5 million in gross operating profits in 2020. That was down from nearly $594 million a year earlier. Before the pandemic forced casinos to close for 3 1/2 months. And limited their operations even after reopening.

Pandemic Costs Atlantic City Casinos More Than 80% of Their Profits In 2020

Gross operating profit represents earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and other expenses. And it is a widely accepted measure of profitability in the Atlantic City casino industry.

“Atlantic City and its casinos endured their most challenging year in history,” said James Plousis, chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. Even after being allowed to reopen in July, the casinos’ earnings were limited by travel restrictions, limited amenities he added.

“Yet, through responsible management, the casinos proved that in-person gaming could happen safely,” Plousis said. “As tourists return to the shore, they can have every confidence Atlantic City is safe for the summer.”

The Ocean Casino Resort posted the largest operating profit at $21.8 million, up from $6.7 million in 2019. Its owners announced this week that the Ilitch family of Detroit. Which owns the Little Caesars pizza chain and a Detroit casino, is buying half of the Ocean casino.

“Despite 2020’s extraordinary challenges, Ocean showed continued growth, emerging as an industry leader in gross gaming revenue,” Terry Glebocki, Ocean’s CEO, said in a statement. “Thanks to our team’s hard work and determination in the months before and after our temporary closure due to the global pandemic, Ocean had a successful year. As restrictions ease and we reopen additional areas of our business, I’m optimistic we’ll continue to see gaming growth throughout 2021.”