NJ Online Casino Gaming: Poker Takes A Back Seat Again In October

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Online poker advocates played a major role in bringing legal online casino gaming to New Jersey in late 2013 (just days after Delaware opened up shop — the same sequence that would play out when both states launched sports betting in mid-2018).

And by the time New Jersey regulators first separated “peer-to-peer” (online poker) from “casino” (everything else, most significantly online slot machines) in September 2014, online poker accounted for about 20% of the $10 mm or so in gross gaming revenues for the industry.

That ratio held for a few months. Then the online casino side began gaining momentum.

By July 2015, online poker revenue was at $1.9 mm while casino jumped to $10.6 mm in online revenues. A year later, it was $2 mm vs. $15.4 mm. In July 2017, it was $2 mm again vs. $18.6 mm. For July 2018, the numbers were $1.9 mm and $24 mm.

This year, online poker has ranged from $1.7 mm to $1.9 mm in monthly gross revenue — until September and the October figures released on Thursday, each of which settled at $1.6 mm.

As for online casino, those revenues climbed up the $30 mm-plus ladder throughout 2019, hitting a new high at $43.6 mm in October to unseat September’s record figure of $39.5 mm.

A graph of the two online products for the last several years would have online poker looking like a “flatline” and online casino looking like a rocket takeoff. In fact, total online poker revenues are actually down 2% in 2019 while online casino has jumped up an amazing 63.1%.

Some of this boost comes from online sports betting apps luring their new customers into online casino as well (at much larger profit margins than sports betting provides). But the numbers show this tide was turning well before the first legal sports bet was taken in New Jersey in June 2018.

New products fueling Atlantic City casino revenue boosts

A further look at the October 2019 numbers is instructive.

The main product — brick-and-mortar casino gambling in Atlantic City — was basically flat last month compared to October 2018. The revenue number for this past was $202.3 mm, marginally up from $200.6 mm a year ago.

But online gaming revenue was up from $26.8 mm to $45.2 mm, and sports betting of all types rose from $11.7 mm to $46.4 mm.

Add it all up, and total gaming revenue for the Atlantic City casino industry was up 22.9% even though its core product merely treaded water. Those numbers figure to be studied in casino-legal states around the country.

The only AC casino to see a big boost last month in casino win was Ocean Resort, which was up 41% to $18.4 mm. That boosted Ocean — the property formerly known as Revel — three spots, from last to sixth in the city.

Ocean also is now sixth in 2019 casino win at $175.3 mm, although it’s not close to “The Big Five” led by Borgata at $595.5 mm and Hard Rock — also a year-old re-branded property like Ocean — at $274 mm.

For the year so far, the New Jersey Treasury has taken in $247.1 mm in tax revenue for legal gambling at casinos and their affiliated online gaming and sports betting products.

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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