Borgata Has Its Best Online Casino Month Ever in April – The Poker Side, Not So Much

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New Jersey online casinos had their second best revenue month ever in April, with a total take of $23,018,762, according to data released by the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Slots and table games accounted for $21,257,358, a 12.7% year-over-year gain, while poker sites contributed $1,761,404, a 10.5% loss.

Pumping the brakes on casino growth

On the casino side, revenue has grown every single month compared with the previous year since the industry’s inception. However, the April figure was the weakest percentage increase on record. In March, the vertical set a record with $23,613,844, surging past its previous best by over $3 million. That said, revenue in April simply not keep up the pace.

Here’s a look at casino earnings by licensee:

While not the biggest overall earner, Borgata had a stellar month in April, squeezing out just enough to break its previous all-time record. Party Poker, a Borgata partner, revamped and relaunched its online casino operation under the Party Casino brand during the month, which likely played a part in the big number.

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Borgata, playMGM and Party all stealthily launched Live Dealer games near the end of the month as well. Live Dealer is a popular option at NJ online casinos, and was previously only available at Golden Nugget and Betfair.

Golden Nugget for its part continues to lead the market, and was one of the three casinos to have its best month ever during March. Last month, the licensee made around $500,000 less, but enjoyed a whopping 51% increase over the same period in 2017. Golden Nugget has for the past few months been quite generous with giveaways, continuing the trend in April with its $25,000 Venetian Adventure leaderboard promo.

Caesars, which serves as the umbrella for Harrah’s and 888 Casino, booked it second-biggest win ever in April with just over $3 million. 888 has recently gone to great lengths to modernize and market its site, and the work seems to be paying off.

At long last the brand is getting serious about its Garden State operation. Last month it sealed a partnership with IGT to launch 18 new games, and we expect it to continually add titles from the same library on an ongoing basis.

Both Resorts and Tropicana posted year-on-year losses, although the 19% contraction suffered by Tropicana seems the more worrisome.

Online poker poised for a comeback?

The one bright spot in NJ online poker in April was provided by PokerStars, and even then, it wasn’t all that impressive. Stars banked nearly $800,000 for the month, putting it pretty much flat Y/Y.

The site ran its popular NJSCOOP during the month, which boosted earnings to a level higher than we’d expect normally. Of the dozens of events which played out during the series, there were only a few which didn’t hit their guarantees.

Borgata and Caesars poker sites, on the other hand, had their worst month ever, taking in just $514,676 and $449,426 respectively.

We expect Caesars’ fortunes to change dramatically for the better in May, though, and for revenue numbers to reflect a new industry pecking order with partner sites WSOP.com and 888 at the top. At the beginning of this month, the pair linked up player pools with sister sites in Nevada and Delaware, creating the largest player network to ever operate in the regulated US space.

Nearly overnight, cash game traffic doubled, giving players many more options in terms of tables, stakes and formats than they ever had before. The tri-state agreement gives WSOP.com a clear advantage over PokerStars, and will turn Caesars into the leading NJ online poker network.

PokerStars, and to a greater extent sites under the Borgata umbrella, should be very concerned about shared WSOP liquidity. Joining forces with NV and DE will allow it not only to increase its average traffic, but to offer even bigger promotions and tournaments, including the chance to win a WSOP bracelet from the comfort of home.

Sports betting is on the way

The NJ online casino industry is still growing, but not nearly as fast as it once was. The recent Supreme Court decision to strike down PASPA, the federal law prohibiting sports betting outside of Nevada, could offer another shot in the arm to the industry.

On Monday, a majority of justices sided with New Jersey in its long running case against the NCAA and four professional sports leagues. The decision will allow sports betting not only at physical Atlantic City casinos and racetracks, but also at online casinos via Internet-connected devices and apps.

The specifics have yet to be worked out, but we expect sports betting to go live sometime before September. Some estimate that in the near term online sports betting in the state could bring in upwards of $250 million per year. The total could end up besting even online casino revenue, which totaled around $245 million in 2017.

Total April revenue

LICENSEEPOKER REVENUECASINO REVENUETOTAL WINTAX REVENUE
Borgata$514,676$4,076,624$4,591,300$803,478
Caesars$449,426$3,059,395$3,508,821$614,044
Golden Nugget$8,133,024$8,133,024$1,423,279
Resorts$797,302$2,815,424$3,612,726$632,227
Tropicana$3,172,891$3,172,891$555,256
Month totals$1,761,404$21,257,358$23,018,762$4,028,283

Total 2018 revenue

LICENSEEPOKER REVENUECASINO REVENUETOTAL WINTAX REVENUE
Borgata$2,296,921$14,823,159$17,120,080$2,996,014
Caesars$2,068,007$12,397,231$14,465,238$2,531,417
Golden Nugget$31,973,727$31,973,727$5,595,402
Resorts$3,086,526$12,424,185$15,510,711$2,714,374
Tropicana$13,483,679$13,483,679$2,359,644
Year Totals$7,451,454$85,101,981$92,553,435$16,196,851
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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