Online Sportsbook Crossover Traffic Contributes To Record Busting January For NJ Online Casinos

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NJ online casinos kicked off the year not with a bang, but an absolute explosion. The state’s seven iGaming licensees raked in a whopping $33.59 million total in January, crushing their previous record by more than $4.5 million.

What’s more, online gambling earnings constituted a 53% increase over the same timeframe last year. January marks the fourth month in a row in which NJ iGaming sites have eclipsed their all-time record.

While organic growth, the launch of new online casinos, and the January chill certainly played their role in the titanic surge, in our estimation, the recent rise in revenue has also been propelled by crossover traffic from the state’s nascent online sportsbooks to online casino sites.

Golden Nugget dominates

While four licensees broke their previous best in January, Golden Nugget and Resorts did so by the biggest margin, by far.

Golden Nugget, the longtime regional market leader, topped the list with $12.1 million in earnings, about $2 million more than its previous record, achieved in December. GN hosts several online gaming sites, including top-performers Play SugarHouse and Betfair.

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Play SugarHouse has its own online sportsbook, but recently transferred that license from Golden Nugget to the Monmouth Park racetrack in order to skirt restrictions on NBA betting. However, the company advertises the operator’s casino on the sportsbook site – with a click, players are redirected back to SugarHouse Casino.

Paddy Power Betfair, which serves as the parent company for FanDuel, likely got a big casino revenue boost from its sportsbook operation as well. Just like SugarHouse, FanDuel is hosted not at Golden Nugget, but at The Meadowlands. However, players who click the casino tab on the sports website are taken right back to Betfair.

DraftKings casino emerges

While it made less than half of Golden Nugget’s haul, Resorts recorded a stellar performance in January, increasing its month-on-month take by nearly $2 million to $5.77 million total.

Throughout 2018, Resorts’ revenue was fairly stagnant, but the launch of sports betting, and its partnership with premier operator DraftKings, has given it a major boost.

The DFS giant-turned sportsbook skin is currently the online sports wagering market leader in the Garden State, edging out its arch nemesis FanDuel. However, unlike FanDuel Sportsbook, which links back to Betfair for casino games, DraftKings decided to open its own branded gambling site directly under Resorts.

Now, sportsbook and DFS players can easily access a select number of traditional casino games using a shared wallet.

The operator began building out its casino offering in December, when it launched with a single blackjack game. In January, a number of online slot titles were added, as were one video poker and roulette option.

But the site is not stopping there and progress continues unabated. In February DraftKings jumped into the ever popular Live Dealer segment, launching five games with the help of Evolution Gaming.

A DraftKings exec recently confirmed that crossover traffic was indeed responsible for a large and growing portion of its profits. “iGaming performance has significantly outpaced our internal projections, and there was tremendous crossover between sports betting and iGaming during the Super Bowl,” said James Chisholm.

The newcomers

January marks the seventh full month that the nascent Hard Rock and Ocean online casinos have been live in the state.

Hard Rock’s iGaming operation, for its part, has grown in each of those months, culminating with a record take of $1.6 million in January. The music-themed casino launched its own online sportsbook in the final days of the month, so we won’t have much inkling of any crossover traffic until February’s numbers are released.

Ocean is a different story. While the casino hit a high note in November with a $730k iGaming haul, it dropped by nearly $300k in December before reporting $530k total in January.

Ocean, the brick-and-mortar casino housed in the former Revel building, is navigating turbulent waters. Recently, the casino’s lenders took over the struggling property from owner Bruce Deifik after five straight months of losses. The new owners plan to sink a further $70 million into the property in the hopes of keeping it afloat.

NJ online poker’s existential threat

The state’s three online poker licensees raked in $1.88 million, constituting yet another month of year-over-year losses.

Caesars, the umbrella for 888 and WSOP, beat out the competition, banking $725k. PokerStars and Borgata earned $670k and $489k during the month respectively.

In another potentially devastating blow, the Department of Justice recently announced a change in its thinking on the Wire Act. The new interpretation could put an end to interstate poker compacts, including any future compacts which could have been made with the large state of Pennsylvania.

Ring-fencing online poker by state could crush the industry in NJ, or potentially lead Borgata to call it quits.

Total January earnings

LICENSEEPOKER REVENUECASINO REVENUETOTAL WINTAX REVENUE
Borgata$488,505$4,253,991$4,742,496$829,937
Caesars$724,895$3,850,768$4,575,663$800,741
Golden Nugget$12,180,039$12,180,039$2,131,507
Hard Rock$1,623,107$1,623,107$284,044
Ocean$530,816$530,816$92,893
Resorts$669,490$5,777,109$6,446,599$1,128,155
Tropicana$3,495,671$3,495,671$611,742
Month totals$1,882,890$31,711,501$33,594,391$5,879,018
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Bill Grinstead

Bill has over a decade of experience working in diverse aspects of the online gambling space. He is currently focused on legal, US online gaming, which he has reported on since the industry first became regulated in the country.

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