2020 Tourism Season in Review

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By the Numbers:


Percent increase in New Jersey Direct Gaming Tax Revenue in 2020 over 2019


Percent of total 2020 employment in Atlantic County, NJ in direct tourism jobs  


Million visitors to New Jersey in 2020


Days of New Jersey casino shutdown

2020 was one of the most challenging years in the history of gaming, hospitality and tourism in New Jersey. With the worst of the COVID-19 public health crisis seemingly behind us, we can reflect back on the challenges of 2020 with hope for the future. 

These numbers are drawn from publicly available reports and commentary including: 

American Gaming Association State of the States

American Hotel & Lodging Association State of the Hotel Industry 2021

Economic Impact of Tourism in New Jersey 2020 - Tourism Economics on behalf of Visit NJ

Executive Orders of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy



Gaming Revenue - Taxes

Despite a 16.9% overall decline in Casino Gaming Consumer Spend, as reported by the American Gaming Association, Casino Direct Gaming Tax for New Jersey increased 0.3% in 2020 over 2019. Among states with commercial casino gaming, New Jersey was the only one to report an increase in gaming tax revenue year-over-year. Internet gaming played a significant role in this increase, as it is taxed at a higher rate than land-based gaming.

In contrast to land-based gaming operations in 2020, internet gaming activity increased substantially in 2020 compared to 2019. The four U.S. states with legal online casino operations reported a 198.9% revenue increase over 2019 to $1.55 billion in 2020.  New Jersey led the pack with $970.3 million in internet gaming revenue, well ahead of the next largest internet gaming market, Pennsylvania, which reported $565.8 million in revenue for its first full year of operation. 


The gaming, hospitality and tourism industries were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Shutdowns, operating restrictions and limited demand from consumers forced many operators to send employees home. Direct tourism employment in New Jersey declined 30.8% in 2020 compared to 2019.

In communities with strong ties to the tourism industry, like Cape May and Atlantic County, where direct tourism employment accounted for 43.3% and 25.5% respectively of total employment in 2020, there were significant job losses. Cape May County  had 13.5% and Atlantic County 34.2% fewer tourism jobs in 2020 compared to 2019. 

Visitors & Spending

The state of New Jersey welcomed 84.6 million visitors in 2020, 27.2% less than in 2019. These visitors spent $29.4 billion in 2020 36.8% less than in 2019. According to analysits for Tourism Economics, visitation to New Jersey is expected to rebound to 100 million in 2021 and surpass pre-pandemic levels by 2024. 

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association's State of the Industry Report, 56% of consumers expect to travel for leisure - a similar rate to previous years. Business travel however, is predicted to be down 85% compared to 2019 through April 2021 and rise slowly after that.

Casino Shutdown - Operating Restrictions

Atlanti City's casinos, along with many other businesses, were asked to shut their doors in March 2020 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Atlantic City's casinos were shut a record 107 days, from March 16 to July 2, 2020. When properties reopened they were still subject to capacity limits which were finally lifted on May 19, 2021, when casinos were allowed to operate at 100% capacity for the first time in over a year. 


For a local perspective on the 2020 season and predictions for 2021 view a recording of our 13th Annual Jersey Shorecast

13th Annual Jersey Shorecast