Pennsylvania And New Jersey’s Online Border Battle Will Heat Up Next Week

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pa online gambling launch nj impact

The long-delayed launch of PA online gambling is coming to an end. The July 15 go-live date is fast approaching.

Parx Casino is counting down to the big day via its website. Other Pennsylvania properties could join Parx on the launch pad, too.

However, the scenario triggers interesting questions: What kind of impact will this event have on NJ online gambling? Will there even be a noticeable difference?

To be fair, any changes will take a few months if not a year to quantify.

And just like sports betting in New Jersey, Atlantic City casinos still set the standard for online casino gambling. In this case, we are talking a six-year head start. But there are a few variables to consider as NJ’s neighbor to the West gets off and running.

Parx has strong brand recognition

When Parx does launch next week, the platform will have a few things going in its favor.

The first is there is no doubt South Jersey residents commuting back and forth to nearby Philadelphia will be inclined to take this new app for a trial spin. Add in a welcome bonus offer, and the deal only gets sweeter. Those NJ casino apps will still be available when they return home.

Of course, Parx and any other apps launching next week will have the advantage of drawing from a much bigger population pool. In terms of square miles, New Jersey is one of the smallest in the nation.

Another reason that might put a dent in NJ online casino revenue is the strength of the Parx brand. When it comes to Pennsylvania casino revenue, this property is regularly among the top performers.

In May alone, according to numbers released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), Parx generated an industry-best $53,178,991 in gaming revenue. That was nearly $10 million more than Sands Bethlehem (now Wind Creek).

In other words, the customer base is there.

Crossing the online gambling bridge

But there are two sides to every story. The reality is Philadelphia and South Jersey are extremely close. While the Keystone State was working on its legislation and launch plans, the same industry has been booming in the Garden State.

In 2013 alone, nine of the now more than 20 online casinos went live. The starting lineup includes:

There is a very good chance New Jersey will take a hit from one of its feeder markets. In terms of how big of a hit, that’s way too early to estimate what the potential impact will be.

For now, New Jersey’s monthly internet gaming numbers are likely not going to slow down. The seven current license holders reported $38,340,638 for the month of May. The DGE will release June’s revenue on Friday.

Pennsylvania has a much higher tax rate related to online gaming (54% for online slots and 16% for table games). New Jersey is 17.5% for all forms of online gambling.

Top that off with the cross-selling from online sportsbooks, and New Jersey still has a good thing going.

No Golden Nugget in PA . … for now

When it comes to online gambling success stories, the Golden Nugget AC has the golden touch.

The smallest property in AC continues to take the crown on a monthly basis and by a significant margin. The most recent numbers show Golden Nugget and its online partners earned $14,078,208Resorts Digital finished second with $7,971,973.

Things are now at a point where the Golden Nugget is chasing an intriguing milestone. The land-based and online numbers are separated by just more than $3 million.

Over in PA, Golden Nugget will launch online someday, too. Back in May, the company moved one step closer when they satisfied the PGCB as a qualified gaming entity.

But Golden Nugget’s success story won’t be part of PA until much later. The state will first launch its in-state online casinos before taking on a brand from its neighbor.

Comparing apples to apples

Pennsylvania online gamblers with iOS devices will likely be waiting on the sidelines come launch time, too. There is a new Apple policy that is delaying the arrival of real-money platforms in the App Store.

All three of the mobile sportsbooks that recently launched in PA are currently available for Android users only. In New Jersey, Unibet Casino, which launched last month under the Hard Rock Atlantic City license, is the only NJ offering currently dealing with the Apple delay.

Granted, the Apple policy will cause headaches for NJ down the road as real-money gambling apps that are in the App Store now will need to be rebuilt to meet the new standards. This is especially true if they want to release an app update.

But the reality is, no matter how many apps launch in PA next week, there will be an unlevel playing field for a short bit of time.

Likely this time next year, we will get a clearer picture of how PA’s online gaming arrival impacts NJ.

Until then, New Jersey holds the crown.

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Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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