Online Gambling And Mobile Sports Betting: Good Or Bad For The NJ Casino Industry?

Martin Derbyshire Updated on June 10, 2019
NJ online gambling casino sports

Online gambling has helped bring the Atlantic City casino industry back from the dead.

Plus, the launch of legal sports betting is helping it grow even more. Even though more than 80% of sports betting is happening online, Atlantic City casinos don’t exactly get 100% of the proceeds.

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It’s easy to see the major affect online gambling has had on the Atlantic City casino industry.

The Atlantic City casino industry peak

Atlantic City casinos peaked in 2006 when they posted $5.2 billion in gambling revenue. The next decade saw numerous casinos close down and revenues decline every single year until they were whittled down to about half that size in 2015.

NJ online gambling launched in November 2013, but it wasn’t until 2016 that online gambling revenue really turned things around for the Atlantic City casino industry.

Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar casino revenues hit $2.406 billion in 2016, down from $2.414 billion in 2015. However, online gambling revenue jumped 32% to $196.7 million. Added up, total Atlantic City gambling revenues actually hit $2.603 billion in 2016, an increase of 1.5% over 2015.

NJ online casinos turn it around

Atlantic City casinos had not posted a year-over-year revenue increase since the 2006 peak. That means the best NJ online casinos are directly responsible for turning around a decade of declines in the Atlantic City casino industry.

Total Atlantic City gambling revenues rose again in 2017 and 2018.

Two of the casinos that closed in the lean years rebranded and reopened in 2018. Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Atlantic City made it nine casinos now running on the Jersey shore.

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Despite these two new casinos mostly cannibalizing the business of the existing seven, six of which posted small revenue declines in 2018, the industry’s overall winning streak has continued.

April marked the 11th-straight month of revenue growth.

The industry has generated almost a billion dollars ($977.37 million) in gaming revenue in 2019’s first four months. That represents more than a 20% increase over the first four months of 2018.

Online gaming has continued to do its part, generating more than $141 million in revenue through the first four months of the year. That represents more than a 52% increase over the first four months of 2018.

Legal sports betting changes the game

Plus, the launch of legal sports betting in June 2018 has only helped Atlantic City casinos generate even more additional revenue.

New Jersey sportsbooks generated $1.24 billion in revenue in 2018 and brought the total since launch up to $1.78 billion in April.

Of course, its worth noting that Atlantic City casinos aren’t the only ones raking it in from sports betting. NJ racetracks Meadowlands and Monmouth Park also house sportsbooks. Most notably, the top-grossing online and retail sports betting operations at Meadowlands running under the FanDuel Sportsbook banner.

Plus, the state’s first online and mobile sports betting operations launched in August 2018 and have seen the amount of money bet online increase every month since. In fact, online and mobile sports betting now represents more than 80% of the market.

Atlantic City casinos only see a piece of that revenue. That’s because most of the NJ sports betting apps and sites are run independently under a casino license. Or, by a third-party software provider with a revenue-sharing deal in place.

Regardless, that hasn’t hurt the Atlantic City casino industry’s bottom line.

Online gambling helped revive the Atlantic City casino industry. Now, together with retail, online and mobile sports betting, it is driving it toward a fourth-straight year of revenue growth.

A different customer and a revived industry

Ever since online gambling launched in November 2013, the Atlantic City casinos who run the sites have been telling anyone willing to listen that online casinos and brick and mortar casinos attract different types of customers.

According to the casino operators, customers don’t just stop gambling at a land-based casino and start betting online; they’re a different set of people. They represent different demographics and most remain loyal to one form of gambling or the other. The exception is the customers willing to try both in ever-increasing numbers when a casino brand they trust offers them.

In other words, the idea online casinos cannibalize the brick-and-mortar casino business is a complete myth.

The only thing NJ online gambling and mobile sportsbooks can be blamed for is driving growth.

After some tough times not too long ago, things are looking up in Atlantic City. Clearly, NJ online casinos and sports betting apps are a big part of the reason why.

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