ATLANTIC CITY — The total number of people working in the city’s nine casino hotels declined slightly at the end of 2019 compared to the year before.
The decrease in the number of casino employees is neither a cause for concern nor an indicator the industry is moving in the wrong direction, experts said.
Rather, the 2019 numbers more accurately reflect a casino market that added two properties in June 2018 — Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort — starting to self-correct.
Atlantic City’s gambling parlors employed 26,761 people in December, a 4.2% decrease from the same month in 2018, according to data from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Steve Callender, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and senior vice president of Eastern regional operations for Tropicana Atlantic City’s parent company, Eldorado Resorts, said the employment numbers have leveled off across the industry in the 18 months since Hard Rock and Ocean opened, as operations steadied.
“As we begin a new year, we look forward to maintaining this strong employee base, ensuring long-term economic growth and stability across the city,” Callender said.
The number of full-time casino staff in 2019 fell 5.9%, and workers categorized as “other,” which includes temporary, seasonal and on-call employees, dipped 2.6%. At the same time, there were 174 more part-time employees, an increase of 5.6%.
“The 2019 figures bear out the fact that the industry has expanded by two, but it’s solid,” said Bob McDevitt, president of Unite Here Local 54, the casino workers union that represents nearly 10,000 members. “These are good employment figures for nine casinos.”
The casino industry reported more than $3.3 billion in total gaming revenue last year for the first time since 2012, when there were 12 properties in Atlantic City. The legalization of sports betting and the continued growth of online gambling contributed to the industry’s fourth consecutive year of revenue gains, accounting for more than 18% of all reported casino gaming revenue last year.
The industry’s net revenue, which reflects all income from gambling, hotel rooms, food and beverage, and entertainment before promotional allowances, was up nearly 11% through the first three quarters of 2019.
Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, said the industry is still rightsizing itself as the nine casinos try to identify the best way to operate in an expanded market.
The casinos were “more efficient” in 2019 and were therefore “able to generate higher levels of revenue at a lower expense rate,” Pandit said.
One month after Hard Rock and Ocean reopened shuttered Boardwalk casino properties, the entire casino hotel industry reported employing more than 30,000 people. The last time Atlantic City casino hotels had employed at least 30,000 was in 2014, right before four properties closed.
The dual openings of Hard Rock and Ocean resulted in the creation of 7,741 jobs in June 2018. By the end of that year, those two properties employed 6,927 people. As of December, Hard Rock (3,630) and Ocean (2,949) accounted for 6,579 casino hotel jobs, or just shy of 25% of the industry’s total labor force.
Ocean had the largest decrease in the number of employees in terms of number of jobs lost (228) from 2018 to 2019. Bally’s Atlantic City reported the largest decrease in jobs as a percentage of its total workforce, with a nearly 9% difference in 12 months.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa employs the most people of all the Atlantic City casinos, reporting 5,569 jobs last month. Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City provided 3,095 jobs at the end of 2019, third-most among the resort’s casino hotels. Tropicana rounded out the top five in 2019, reporting 2,947 employees.