Harrah’s and Borgata are the Two Best Atlantic City Casinos for Slot Players

Every month the casinos in Atlantic City are required to submit various revenue statistics to the state of New Jersey. One of those stats is the percentage of slot play that the casino wins. We dug into the slot win data provided by the casinos to determine which AC casinos, on average, have the best slots for gamblers.

The data we used for this study is simply the 100.0% – the slot win percentage for the casinos. For example, if a casino recorded a 9.0% slot win for the month then the slot win for the gamblers was 100.0% – 9.0%, or 91.0%.

We looked at the slot wins for the last twelve months of available data, or November 2017 through October 2018. While the spread between the highest payout rate and the lowest may not at first seem huge, when you consider the tens of millions of dollars that are bet in the slot machines each month the payout to gamblers really adds up.


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Here’s a look at the slot machine payout rates for each Atlantic City casino over the past year:

To help clarify which AC casino has the best slots for gamblers we then ranked each casino based on the slot payout for each of the last twelve months. The casino with a rank of one had the highest slot payout to customers during the month. As you will see below, the outcome is amazing. Either Harrah’s and Borgata had the best (lowest) payout rate rank EVERY month over the last year. Harrah’s had the best payout for 7 months and Borgata for 6 months (Harrah’s and Borgata were tied in June 2018).

Note that Hard Rock and Ocean Resort only have rankings since they opened their doors in June.

Taking things one step further, we then averaged the ranks over the last twelve months for each AC casino. Harrah’s and Borgata obviously had the best (lowest) average twelve month ranks.

Besides Harrah’s and Borgata having the best payout rate ranks in Atlantic City, a few other interesting things jump out after looking at this data. The two other Caesars Entertainment casinos in town, besides Harrah’s, came in third and fourth. Caesars and Bally’s, while never claiming the number one or two spot on slot payout rate ranks, were significantly better than most other casinos in town.

Another interesting observation is that the two newcomers in town were dead last in terms of slot payouts to gamblers. Hard Rock’s average slot payout rank since it opened in May was 7.2, placing it just ahead of Ocean Resort which had the worst slot payout rank in Atlantic City.

So, does this mean that if you play slots at Borgata or Harrah’s that you will win? Of course not! The payout varies from machine to machine, and even from denomination to denomination. Unfortunately, we do not have more granular data to analyze, but this study does point to the casinos that are offering the best overall slot payouts in town.

MGM Revenue by Property: MGM Macau Is the Leader; MGM Grand is Top in Vegas

The Short Take:

  • MGM Macau had the highest revenue in Q3 for any MGM property at $434M.  MGM Grand had the highest revenue for any domestic property at $340M
  • The best performing MGM resorts in terms of YoY revenue growth were MGM Grand Las Vegas (+9.3%) and MGM National Harbor (+9.0%).  The worst performer was Bellagio (-15.3%)
  • Every domestic resort outside of Las Vegas had positive YoY growth and the MGM Grand is the only domestic resort that had positive YoY Growth

The third quarter MGM quarterly report is out, and one interesting observation is the breakdown of revenue by each of the company’s properties.  The overall winner within the company is the MGM Macau while the domestic property with the highest revenue for the quarter is the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

 

Macau

The two Macau resorts produced over $600 million in revenue for MGM.  The MGM Macau had revenue of over $434.2 million for the third quarter. This is more than double the revenue of the MGM Cotai which rung up sales of over $171.7 million.

In terms of growth, the MGM Macau ran into some headwinds.  Year-over-year growth for the third quarter of 2018, compared to the third quarter of 2017, was in the red.  And substantially so to the tune of -7.8%.  Since the MGM Cotai was not open in the third quarter of 2017, we do not have comparable YoY data.

 

Las Vegas

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas had the highest revenue and YoY growth rates of any of the company’s domestic resorts.  The $340 million in sales works out to 9.3% growth YoY.  This is the only MGM resort in Las Vegas that had positive YoY growth. The worst performing property in Vegas in terms of growth was Bellagio.  Bellagio’s $322 million in quarterly revenue is a 15.3% decrease compared to the same quarter last year.

Domestic Outside Las Vegas

Borgata in Atlantic City had the highest domestic revenue of any MGM property outside of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Borgata’s revenue fell 4.4% YoY to $235 million.  MGM National Harbor rang up the highest revenue growth in this category, with YoY growth of 9.0% with Q3 2018 revenue of almost $197 million.  In fact, every domestic non-Las Vegas property had positive YoY growth in the third quarter, with the Beau Rivage growing 8.2% and Gold Strike Tunica increasing by 1.9%.

As you can see by the two charts above, revenue and revenue growth rates were a mixed bag for the MGM properties.  To see more third quarter MGM statistics, check out our articles on Casino Revenue, ADR and RevPAR.

Borgata Dominates Atlantic City Poker

The Short Take:

  • The September Atlantic City poker rack was dominated by Borgata which saw a rake of over $2.2 million
  • Borgata’s rake was over twice the rake of every other Atlantic City poker room combined
  • The winner in terms of rake per poker table was Ocean Resort, with a rake of over $20,000 per table

While poker is a relatively small slice of an Atlantic City casino’s wins compared to slots, table games and now sports betting, it still brings in a decent amount of revenue for many of the city’s casinos.

We looked at the September poker wins, or rakes, for each AC casino that offers live poker tables.  By far, Borgata, owned by MGM, is the clear winner.  During the month, Borgata took in over $2.2 million from its poker tables.  By comparison, the other five casinos that offer poker took in just over $905,000 COMBINED!

Two casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment (CZR) had the second and third highest poker rakes for the month, but they were not even close to Borgata’s.  Harrah’s rake was $236,000 while Bally’s brought in $226,000.

Tropicana, Ocean Resort and the Golden Nugget round out our list.  The Trop’s September poker rake was $177,000 while Ocean Resort’s rake was $166,000.  The smallest poker rake belonged to the Golden Nugget, with just under $100,000 for the month. Note that Caesars, the Hard Rock and Resorts do not offer live poker tables.

Here’s a look at the September poker rakes for each AC casino that offers poker:

 

Looking at the poker rakes in terms of city-wide market share, Borgata controlled 71% of the total rake for the month.  Combined, the other five casinos had just 29% of the poker rake.

 

Another interesting way to look at this is to see the rake per poker table at each casino.  We do this by taking the total monthly rake and dividing it by the number of poker tables in each casino.

First, here’s a review of the number of poker tables at each casino as of September 2018:

Borgata:                      124

Bally’s:                         42

Harrah’s:                     37

Tropicana                    18

Golden Nugget:           9

Ocean Resort:             8

TOTAL AC TABLES:      238

While Borgata was the clear winner in total poker rake, the newly opened Ocean Resort claims the prize for the highest rake per poker table, with over $20,000 per table. Borgata was a close second, with about $17,000 per table.  Borgata was followed by the Golden Nugget, Tropicana and Harrah’s.  Bringing up the rear was Bally’s.  Bally’s had the third highest total poker rake, but the smallest rake per table at a bit over $5,000.

Here’s a look at each casino’s rake per poker table:

While poker is not the most important aspect of a casino’s revenue, the casinos still want profitable poker rooms.  Borgata is killing it in terms of total poker rake while the upstart Ocean Resort surprises with the biggest rake per table.  Ante Research will continue to keep an eye on the AC poker rooms, so bookmark us and check back soon!

How Much Do Casinos Win on a Square Foot Basis?

The Short Take:

  • We took a look at each Atlantic City casinos’ total wins per square foot for September 2018
  • Borgata, arguably the city’s top casino, rang up the most wins per square foot in September with $439.34 per square foot
  • Surprisingly, the city’s smallest casino, the Golden Nugget, came in second with $242.55 wins per square foot
  • The casino with the smallest win per square foot was Bally’s, clocking just $131.42 per square foot.

While they don’t rival some of the largest Vegas casinos, Atlantic City casinos are massive.  When you walk in all you can see are rows of slots and clusters of table game pits.  The casino floor seems to go on forever.

Retail stores like Macy’s and the Home Depot report a statistic: sales per square foot, but casinos do not report a similar measure.  So, we decided to calculate the total casino wins per square foot.  The math is pretty simple.  Take the reported total casino wins and divide that by the size of the casino.  Both of these numbers are reported by the Atlantic City casinos to the New Jersey government.

First, let’s look at the size of each AC casino.  Harrah’s is the largest casino in terms of casino square footage, coming in at 156,284 square feet.  Borgata comes in second with 136,771 square feet.  Five casinos make up the middle of the pack in terms of square footage: Ocean Resort, Tropicana, Bally’s, Hard Rock and Caesars.  These five casinos are all in the 115,000 – 130,000 square foot range. The two smallest casinos in the Atlantic City market are Resorts at 82,877 square feet and the Golden Nugget at 78,464 square feet.

Here’s a look at the nine current Atlantic City casinos’ total casino floor square footage:

 

Looking at this data another way, Harrah’s controls about 14% of the total casino square footage in the Atlantic City market, followed by Borgata with about 13%.  On the opposite end, Resorts has 8% and the Golden Nugget has 7% of the total AC casino space.

 

Now let’s look at how much each casino wins per square foot.  As we mentioned earlier, we took the total casino wins for the month of September and divided it by the casino square footage.

Borgata blows every other casino away in terms of wins per square foot, with over $439 in wins for every foot of casino space.  The next closest is the smallest casino in town – the Golden Nugget.  While the Nugget’s win per square foot of $242 is just a bit more than half that of Borgata’s, it still beats seven other casinos.

Tropicana and Caesars are next on the list, and the only other two casinos above the $200 mark.  Resorts and Harrah’s are both in the mid-$180’s per square foot.  As expected, if you read our earlier article on total casino win rates for the Atlantic City casinos, Bally’s is dead last on the list, and by a lot.  It’s total win per square foot is only 131.41, or less than 30% of the Borgata’s.

 

While this information may not be particularly actionable for either gamblers or investors, it is still really interesting to see the disparity of the win per square foot between some of the casinos in AC.  The smallest casino, the Golden Nugget, came in second for wins per square foot and the largest, Harrah’s was second to last.  The Nugget is definitely making great use of every foot of its casino floor.

Atlantic City Total Casino Winnings Flat But Most Casinos Continue to Benefit From Taj Closing

The June 2017 casino revenue reports show that total casino winnings in Atlantic City were virtually flat in June 2017 versus a year ago. In June, the seven operating casinos pulled in winnings of $197,488,784. This is a -0.003% decrease from June 2016 when AC casinos pulled in $197,493,766.

While the flat casino winnings may be disappointing, most casinos saw significant year-over-year increases as a result of the closing of the Taj Mahal. The June 2016 winnings include winnings at the Taj, and most casinos benefited by that casinos closing.



The Tropicana produced the largest total winnings growth rate at 20.4%, followed by the Golden Nugget with a 14.7% year-over-year growth rate. The only casino to post a negative growth rate in June was Caesars. Caesars total winning dropped 1.9% from a year ago.

The table below outlines the year-over-year growth rates of total winnings of the seven current AC casinos.

 

As you can see, it has been a pretty good year so far for the remaining Atlantic City casinos.  All of the casinos have been benefiting from the closing of the Taj and other casinos.  The notable winner is the Trop which has seen double digit growth rates in its casino winnings.  While the individual casinos are posting gains pretty consistently every month, the casino winnings for the entire AC casino market has been a mixed bag.  As you can see in the table above, since January, the total AC winnings growth rate has been positive 3 months (January, March and May), negative 2 months (February and April) and flat one month (June).

While the Tropicana can boast that it had the largest winnings growth rate, the Borgata still remains the most profitable Atlantic City casino based on total casino winnings.  In June 2017 the Borgata won $59,835,792 in its casino.  The next closest casino was Harrah’s which won $31,647,463.  Here is the full list of casino total winnings for June 2017:



Borgata: $59,835,792

Harrah’s: $31,647,463

Tropicana: $28,459,162

Caesars: $24,688,410

Bally’s: $18,156,634

Golden Nugget: $18,017,766

Resorts: $16,683,557

ALL CASINOS: $197,488,784

With the peak summer season upon use, it will be interesting to see if Atlantic City casinos can ramp up their casino winnings and build momentum before new pressures arise from the pending opening of the Hard Rock and possible reopening of the Revel.

Atlantic City Slot Wins Flat in June But Taj Closing Boosts All Casinos

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released the June 2017 casino revenue reports and the results regarding slot machine wins is positive for all Atlantic City casinos.

Year Over Year Slot Win Growth

While the total slot wins in June were amazingly close to flat versus June 2016 for all Atlantic City casinos (142,968,402 for June 2017 vs 142,948,427 for June 2016), all casinos posted positive year over year slot win growth rates.  How can this be?  The simple answer is that in June 2016 Trump Taj Mahal was still in business.  Effectively, the remaining seven AC casinos split the Taj’s approximately $12 million monthly slot win.

The clear winner of the Taj shutdown is the Tropicana, based on slot wins.  The Trop’s year over year slot win increased a remarkable 21.2%.  The next biggest slot win growth rates belong to the Golden Nugget at 14.7% and Resorts at 10.4%.  While all casinos posted positive year over year slot win growth rates, Borgata was in last place at 4.8%.  A case can be made that Borgata, arguably the highest-end casino in Atlantic City, benefited from the closing of the Taj the least.



The chart and table below show the year over year slot win growth rates for each of the last six months for all of the AC casinos still open, plus the total slot win growth rate for all casinos.

Year Over Year Slot Win Growth Rates for Atlantic City Casinos

As you can see, the total Atlantic City slot win growth rates have been a mixed bag since the beginning of 2017.  While the growth rates for slot wins increased during the first three months, the growth rate turned negative in April and May and was essentially flat in June.

Absolute Slot Wins

While the Tropicana had the largest year over year percentage growth rate for slot wins, Borgata continues to have the largest absolute dollar for slot wins.  In June 2017 Borgata had slot wins of over $41.0 million.  Its next closest AC rival was the Trop at $23.9million, followed closely by Harrah’s at nearly $22.0 million.  The table below shows the total slot win for each of the last twelve months for the AC casinos currently in business.

 



What will the reopening of the Taj as a Hard Rock property and the (hopeful) reopening of the Revel/Ten do to the slot business of the existing casinos?  Only time will tell.  Stay tuned!