Chris Christie, then the governor of New Jersey, called it a “critical decision” at the time he signed legislation to legalize online casinos in the state.
But, he added, “I am confident that we are ofering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole.”
A decade later, online casinos in New Jersey have taken off. As the state celebrates 10 years of legal online casinos, New Jersey has seen over $7 billion in total revenue, leading to more than $1 billion in state tax revenue.
It all began with a soft launch on Nov. 21, 2013, setting up a full-go launch five days later. And the growth over that time has been … astounding.
Launch of NJ online casinos signaled ‘rebirth’ of Atlantic City
After Christie put pen to paper, Michael Frawley, then the chief operating officer for the Atlantic Club, praised New Jersey lawmakers. They “seized this moment,” he said at the time. And as a result, “New Jersey will be better for it.” Frawley added that this “reinvestment” in Atlantic City, spurred by online casino gaming, “will be remembered as a critical turning point for this proud town. We look forward to the renewed success this new law will surely bring.”
(It should be noted that the Atlantic Club was one of four Atlantic City casinos to close in 2014.)
Indeed, online casinos in New Jersey have helped keep the AC casino industry afloat, one of the many impacts NJ online casinos have had on the state.
“The focus has been on the rebirth of Atlantic City,” David Rebuck, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, said when the first online casinos went live in November 2013. “The thinking is that new revenue streams that could come about through more attractive play by casinos and the internet could generate that much more revenue.”
Online gambling presented itself as a way to assist in Atlantic City’s economic losses due to nearby competition and the Great Recession. In 2006, AC casinos stood as a $5.2 billion market, a total that dipped to $2.5 billion in 2015. Since then, the land-based industry has relatively rebounded and steadied, from $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2017 to $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2023.
A month before Christie signed off on legislation to clear the way for legal NJ online casinos, analysts from Wells Fargo projected that online gambling in the state could generate upward of $850 million in the “near term.” Safe to say that New Jersey has surpassed those projections. During fiscal year 2023, online casinos in the state generated $1.8 billion in total revenue. For perspective, the first full fiscal year of NJ online casinos featured $131.8 million in revenue.
No slowing down online casino gaming
When it comes to anything new, there is a fear of inevitable staleness. What’s hot now may not be the case next month, let alone in 10 years.
Online casinos in New Jersey have rebuffed that theory. In fact, the industry has only continued to spike up.
Mobile gaming launched in late November 2013 with 12 licensed operators. Including those final days of the month as well as December, NJ online casinos generated $8.4 million in revenue. You know what they did in October 2023 with 36 listed operators on the report? Try $166.8 million – the single-largest revenue month in the 10-year history of NJ online gambling.
That timeline obviously includes 2020, when the world shut down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Atlantic City casinos closed down, thereby cutting out state tax collections on revenue. Online casinos, however, skyrocketed. From 2019 to 2020, NJ online gambling revenue jumped by over 101%, generated more than $970 million. A year later, that total spiked to $1.36 billion.
“The biggest surprise,” Ed Andrewes, CEO of Resorts Digital Gaming, told PlayNJ, “was how the market kept on growing after COVID-19.”
Such has been the case for the online casino industry in New Jersey since the first platforms went live. Those included still-existing operators such as Tropicana Online Casino NJ, Harrah’s Online Casino NJ and Borgata Online Casino NJ. It also included the long-since-departed Ultimate Casino and Betfair Casino, now known as FanDuel Casino NJ.
Much has changed since November 2013. Yet the trend remains the same: NJ online casinos are trending upward.
You see that by the fact the market continues to add new operators.
Look for Jackpot City Casino NJ to launch in the state in the near future.
10-year growth of online casinos in NJ
Just to paint a picture of that growth, consider the first year of online casino gaming in New Jersey.
Over the course of 2014, NJ online casinos generated $122.9 million in revenue. October 2023 topped that on its own with a record $166.8 million, putting the state at nearly $1.6 billion through 10 months this year.
Consider that October total: $166.8 million. Then understand that it took New Jersey 17 months to reach that mark in lifetime totals.
Since November 2022, online casinos in NJ have eclipsed $150 million in monthly revenue nine times in 12 months. Want to guess how many times the industry did that in the previous 108 months? Zero.
Lower that total a little more: NJ online casinos have been above $120 million 25 times over the past 26 months. The industry didn’t reach that monthly benchmark at all in the first 94 months. On top of all that, online casino gaming has generated less than $130 million just once since December 2021.
That’s growth. And it’s still growing.