When Atlantic City casinos saw capacity restrictions vanish as of May 19, some thought NJ online casino revenue would experience a slight drop.
Sure, falling below the $100-million mark for just the second time this year was a realistic possibility. Gamblers were ready to return to normalcy.
The nine land-based properties enjoyed their strongest month of Atlantic City revenue in more than a year.
However, NJ online casinos also enjoyed a very strong month as the industry reported its second-best month since the 2013 launch. The seven license holders reported a combined $108.2 million in May revenue.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement released the latest figures last week.
So far, there is only one month ahead of it. That would be the $113.7 million from March.
Here is another impressive number: $527.2 million. This would be the online casino revenue total through the first five months of 2021.
Clearly, the NJ online gambling industry is showing no signs of slowing down with four out of the last five months coming in at $100 million or better. Here are five reasons why this hot streak will continue.
1) NJ sports betting dishes out an assist to NJ online gambling
Guess what? NFL training camps are opening next month. This means NFL betting season at NJ sportsbooks is right around the corner.
For those wondering why this matters, all it takes is one look back at the 2020 NFL season. December 2021 currently ranks No. 1 all-time with $996.3 million in bets. Why does this number matter, you ask?
Well, at least so far, NJ online casinos enjoy some of their best months whenever there is a significant amount wagered on sporting events. Call it the successful cross-selling model. Basically, users are placing their bets then go off to play table games or slots.
May is the perfect example. NJ sports betting handle came in at $814.3 million while NJ online casino and poker sites generated $108.3 million.
If we go back two months when March Madness betting took center stage, NJ online casinos set a new revenue record as NJ gamblers wagered more than $860 million that month.
So if the seven license holders (soon to be eight once Bally’s Atlantic City joins the field) are experiencing $100-million months when the calendar features the NBA and NHL playoffs and the Major League Baseball regular season, imagine what the number could look like come September and October.
2) Borgata and GNOG still producing $30-million-plus months
One of the other big themes continues to be how Borgata (led by BetMGM and Borgata online casino) along with Golden Nugget Online Gaming (led by Golden Nugget online casino) are claiming the bulk of the market share.
Borgata once again led the field with $32.8 million, good enough for a 30.3% market share. Since NJ regulators do not break down the numbers by brand, there aren’t exact numbers as to how the total revenue is split among the five skins operating under the license. However, it’s PlayNJ’s opinion that the BetMGM and Borgata products are making significant contributions.
By the way, Borgata, the land-based leader, continues to make tremendous strides in the NJ online gambling space as the $32.8 million is a year-over-year increase of 96.7%. Resorts Digital, which includes the DraftKings, Mohegan Sun, and PokerStars brands, was a distant second with a 22% year-over-year increase.
Meanwhile, GNOG reported $31.1 million for the month, accounting for a 28.7% market share. FanDuel, Stardust, and SugarHouse online casinos also operate under the license.
Resorts Digital placed third with $21.6 million, claiming a 19.9% market share. Combine the three license holders together, and they are controlling nearly 80% of the online market, leaving the other four fighting over about 20% of the pie.
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3) NJ online casinos still benefiting from 2020 shutdown
The NJ online casinos can look back to last spring as a turning point for when this industry really started taking off.
April 2020 was the first full month of the 100-plus day shutdown for Atlantic City casinos. Being the only option not impact by the COVID-19 shutdown, NJ online gambling produced an all-time monthly record (at the time) of just under $80 million.
Call it a preview of much bigger months to come. By May, the number jumped to $85.9 million and remained within the same range for several months going forward. When October rolled around, the Garden State cleared $93.5 million.
Here we are more than a year after the shutdown, and the monthly bar is now set at $100 million or better. Two records have already been broken so far this year, and it’s not out of the question that it will happen again.
The industry is up 56.1% year to date.
4) The unknown factor: Impact of Atlantic City casinos returning to ‘normal’
So up until May, Atlantic City casinos were dealing with restrictions, including gaming floors being limited to 50% capacity. However, as of May 19, this all changed. Casinos, restaurants, and entertainment venues are all permitted to operate at full capacity. The full thermal body scans and temperature checks as customers arrive are done.
Slot machines are no longer turned off, and blackjack players no longer have to worry about accidentally bumping into the barrier between seats.
Remember, this time last year, AC casinos were still closed, making online gambling the only option.
Now, it’s officially summer at the Jersey Shore, aka prime season. Just look at the crowds walking the Atlantic City Boardwalk and it’s clear there the customers are back.
However, will the bigger land-based crowds result in less online play?
Not likely being that Internet gamblers always have a phone nearby. Plus, there are no toll booths or stopping for gas.
Many players will likely continue enjoying both forms of gambling.
However, we will have to wait until June numbers are released to get a better idea of how this scenario plays out. For now, the summer season in Atlantic City is the wild card.
Looking like first $1-billion year for NJ online casino biz
As long as the NJ online gambling industry continues producing $100-million months, the Garden State’s year-end totals will exceed the $1-billion mark with ease and set another all-time record in the process.
Think about it, NJ is already more than halfway there with $527.2 million and there are still seventh months remaining. For comparison purposes, 2020 produced $970.3 million, which at the time seemed like a pretty big deal. It was a record, too.
Go back to this time last year, and NJ online gambling revenue was only at $337.8 million, year to date.
That’s a significant difference compared to where the industry currently sits. As long as monthly results remain strong and in the $100-million range, the more likely question will be: How much over $1 billion will NJ online casinos generate this year?