NJ Online Casino Old Guard Flourishes In April While Newcomers Struggle

NJ online casinos post their second-best month ever in April, thanks to big performances by Golden Nugget and Resorts.
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NJ online casinos followed up a blockbuster March with their second-biggest revenue haul ever last month, raking in $36.58 mm.

Online slots and table games generated $34.91 mm, a healthy 64% year-over-year gain, while online poker sites continued to struggle, banking just $1.66 mm, a 5.3% Y/Y decrease.

Market-leader Golden Nugget and Resorts led the charge in online casino earnings, but didn’t quite beat their previous all-time bests. Borgata, which took the third spot, was the only iGaming site to eclipse its historical high point, but only just barely.

Top-level April revenue breakdown

  • April total iGaming: $36,582,934
  • Y/Y change: 58.9%
  • M/M change: -6.5%
  • Online poker: $1,667,977
  • Online casino: $34,914,957
  • Tax revenue: $6,402,013

Year-on-year gains… for most

While each of the state’s five oldest iGaming license holders enjoyed year-on-year revenue bumps, Resorts and Golden Nugget stood out from the pack.

Resorts, which just one year ago was taking in around $3 mm a month on average in online casino proceeds, banked $6.57 mm in April, a massive 134% increase compared with the same timeframe in 2018.

The licensee has now secured a footing as the second highest-grossing operator in the state, behind only Golden Nugget, with Borgata nipping at its heels.

We attribute the explosive growth to the integration of an online casino at Resorts sports betting licensee DraftKings.

The DFS-turned sportsbook giant has been slowly adding online slots, table games and even Live Dealer tables, which have attracted the wandering eyes of distracted sports gamblers. While DraftKings now plays second fiddle to FanDuel in the online sports wagering market, it still has plenty of users eager to make the crossover from betting sports to playing casino games on its platform.

FanDuel, along with Play SugarHouse, has likely provided traditional top-earner Golden Nugget with a similar boost. While Golden Nugget has been king of the Garden State online casino market since long before the advent of sports betting, the launch of sportsbooks at FanDuel and SugarHouse has likely pumped up its online casino win rate even higher.

Neither operator’s sports betting operation is tied to Golden Nugget, but each displays a link from their sportsbooks to a GN-affiliated casino. As we are coming to understand with ever-increasing revenue tallies, there is great crossover potential between the two verticals.

Hard times for Hard Rock and Ocean?

Relative newcomers Hard Rock and Ocean fared considerably worse than their peers, posting 5% and 38% month-over-month decreases respectively.

Hard Rock’s revenue peaked in February at $1.66 mm, decreased around $40,000 in March and fell yet again in April to $1.55 mm.

Hard Rock also boasts an online sportsbook with links back to its online casino, but the brand isn’t as popular, or hasn’t yet gained enough awareness to experience the types of gains some of its competitors have.

Ocean Casino is even less well-known, and while it houses one of the state’s most impressive brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, it has yet to launch one in virtual form, instead doing its online booking through William Hill.

While both Hard Rock and Ocean’s iGaming profits have slid, Ocean seems to be in much more troubled waters. The nascent casino hit its high point in November of last year with a small $731k take, but has continuously slid, raking in just over $300k last month.

If the trend continues at such a pace, Ocean’s online casino days could be numbered.

NJ online poker slowly suffocating

Again, NJ online poker sites saw a year-on-year decrease in total revenue, banking only $1.66 mm (-5.3% Y/Y).

Caesars, which hosts sites that link up in three different states, banked nearly $718k, a 60% Y/Y spike. However, the number is nothing to get excited about, as the market as a whole continues to decline, with Caesars simply eating up market share from its state competitors.

PokerStars and Borgata, both of which are landlocked inside the state, saw 30% and 24% year-on-year declines respectively.

If you didn’t think things could get worse, well, they can. Recently, the Department of Justice issued a new opinion on the Wire Act which would seemingly ban interstate online poker activity. That means that New Jersey may not be able to connect with larger states like Pennsylvania to increase its player pools and overall liquidity, and could become even more isolated.

However, when looking at some recent industry moves, there is reason for some hope. First of all, the World Series of Poker has confirmed that it will allow New Jersey players to participate in some online bracelet events alongside Nevada patrons in this year’s series.

Secondly, GVC Holdings, the maker of poker software used by Borgata-licensed sites, received its preliminary license to operate in Nevada last week. The Nevada market alone is tiny, meaning that GVC and partner MGM are hoping to link up with sites in other states. That signals the two companies’ confidence that interstate online poker will in fact not be banned due to the new Wire Act opinion. Time will tell if the move is a good bet though.

April totals

Golden Nugget$13,854,527$13,854,527$2,424,542
Hard Rock$1,554,913$1,554,913$272,110
Month totals$1,667,977$34,914,957$36,582,934$6,402,013
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