To the traditional theme of “nothing is certain but death and taxes,” it seems we can add “online casino revenue in New Jersey topping $80 million per month” to the list.
February marked the 12th consecutive month that operators collectively reached that milestone, according to figures released this week by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
The fact that all of those figures were achieved amid a pandemic that has limited visitation to Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar casinos might lead one to take pause – except the trend has risen even as restrictions have been cut back somewhat.
After revenue of $55.1 million in January 2020 and $52 million in February – both being the first two times that the number reached beyond $50 million – the gloomy month of March 2020 produced $85.5 million in online gaming operator revenue.
That kicked off a consistent seven-month stretch of $82 to $88 million.
Then came October 2020, and a new mark of $93.5 million – and a new minimum of $90 million that has been exceeded ever since. The tease of $99.5 million in December gave way to January’s record of $103.8 million – followed by February’s still-robust $93.8 million.
The trend line – and the improving economic and safety climate in a world where the rate of vaccinated gamblers rises every day – suggests that $100 million could be a high water mark. But it also suggests that the industry may never return to the $31 million to $39 million benchmark of the first seven months of 2019, nor the $41 million to $49 million level hit in each of the last five months of that year.
Leading online casino operators
Three casinos dominated online play again in February – Golden Nugget at $27.9 million, Borgata at $25.7 million, Resorts at $19.7 million.
Golden Nugget has five online casino sites: playsugarhouse.com, betfaircasino.com, njbetamerica.com, goldennuggetcasino.com, and nj-casino-goldennuggetcasino.com.
Borgata has nine sites: borgatacasino.com, borgatapoker.com, casino.nj.betmgm.com, poker.nj.betmsgm.com, palacasino.com, palapoker.com, palabingousa.com, nj.partycasino.com, and nj.partypoker.com.
For Resorts Digital, it’s simpler: draftkings.com, mohegansuncasino.com, resortscasino.com, and pokerstarsnj.com.
State regulators don’t break the revenue down by site, but we know that online poker accounted for just $2.5 million out of the total of $93.8 million.
AC Casinos hold their ground – sort of
The Atlantic City casino industry’s revenue for February 2020 was reported as $287.3 million, while last month it produced $288.3 million.
If rising revenue in a time of COVID-19 compared to the oh-so-innocent days of February 2020 seems to good to be true, it is.
That’s because the February 2020 breakdown was $218.3 million on the brick-and-mortar side, along with $52 million from online casino gaming and sports betting revenue for the casinos of $17 million.
But the latter two figures are significant because gaming partners of the casinos run those sites and claim a sizable — though undisclosed — portion of the revenue for themselves.
Last month, brick-and-mortar revenue was just $148.2 million, down about one-third from a year earlier. As noted, online casino revenue ballooned to $93.8 million, while sports betting — more than 90% of that taking place online — produced $46.2 million.
Which casinos won the month?
None of the casinos were able to match their brick-and-mortar revenue from a year earlier, but as usual Borgata led the way with $37 million, followed by Hard Rock at $23.5 million and Borgata’s archrival Ocean Casino at $18.8 million. The latter two casinos opened on the same day in mid-2018, and that “new car smell” apparently has yet to rub off on Atlantic City casino visitors.
Tropicana came next at $16 million, followed by Harrah’s at $15.1 million and sister casino Caesars at $13.1 million. Trailing the pack were Resorts ($9 million), Golden Nugget ($8.8 million), and rebuilding site Bally’s ($6.9 million).
The consolation prizes for “Most Modest Dropoffs from 2020” go to Hard Rock and Ocean, which were down by a mere single digits — 1.7% and 9.3% respectively. Golden Nugget’s tumble was the most at 45.6%.