Now that we’re midway through the month of May, the April gaming numbers are being reported and they’re not pretty. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the gaming industry in New Jersey as Atlantic City casinos experienced their worse month ever.
While land-based gaming has obviously nose-dived, the one bright spot has been NJ online casino action, which has taken off. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.
Total Gaming Shows 68.9% Decline
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced quarantines and lockdowns across the Garden State, including all of the gaming venues. With those being potential hotbeds for spreading, the state has kept them closed.
As a result, we saw a complete flatlining on slot machine, table game, and casino wins. By comparison, the state took in $207,582,564 in April of 2019, so that is a massive amount of pain.
Overall, the total gaming in the state showed a 68.9% year-over-year decline, which is a new record. The previous record was in March when revenue dropped 44%.
Online Casinos Reflecting an Increase of 118.6%
It wasn’t a complete wipeout because the state of New Jersey allows online gaming and casinos were still able to make some money in that realm.
Internet gaming netting the casinos $80 million in April, which was a 118.6% jump over April 2019 when the casinos reeled in just $36.6 million. In terms of online sports betting, they won another $2.6 million.
When we tally everything up, casinos saw a 68.9% year-over-year decline, pulling in $82.6 million in April of 2020, which is a far cry from the $265.4 million they reeled in during April of 2019.
It’s worth noting that two casinos – Harrah’s and Caesars – reported no revenue in April whatsoever. They had no in-person action and no internet or sports betting revenue. Both companies operate through online sites through affiliate (Caesars Interactive NJ), who took in $8.7 million.
Sportsbooks See $54.5 Million In Action Even With Minimal Sports
One of the more fascinating numbers from the April reports was that the sportsbooks still saw a monthly handle just over $54.5 million in a time when all major sports were on a hiatus.
That’s quite impressive as the sportsbooks have clearly adjusted to offering anything possible from Russian table tennis to South Korean baseball to NASCAR iRacing odds.
The one event that really helped the sportsbooks in April was the 2020 NFL Draft, which saw a record amount of betting action. While we don’t have exact figures, we do know that records were set in terms of the number of bets places at multiple sportsbooks for an NFL Draft.
The good news is more sports have started to come back in the fold in May with the UFC, NASCAR, soccer and some golf events. The May numbers should be better.
Year-To-Date Numbers Starting To Slump
We’re in the month of May and lockdowns are still in place, so we’re going to start to see much more pain on the year-to-date numbers in the coming months. However, we already know that from the start of 2020 until the end of April, the Industry Total Gaming Revenue is $833.9 million, which is a 19.1% drop from the $1.03 billion we saw in the same time frame last year.
One of the lone bright spots so far has been the Internet Gaming Win, which increased 78.5%. Last year, the January-to-April numbers showed just over $141 million but the 2020 numbers were at $251.9 million.
When Will Lockdown Be Lifted?
At this point, we don’t really know when the New Jersey casinos will open. We have heard some whispers as to how casinos will look as Mohegan Sun wants to check customers’ temperatures upon entrance while other casinos are looking at circulating a purifying ultraviolet light and setting up plexiglass around their table games to separate the player from the dealer.
Outside of that, all we know is that Governor Phil Murphy has stated he will work with the state’s Casino Control Commission and get on the same page with the unions before opening things up.
New Jersey launched legal online gambling in late 2013, and the state has seen revenues grow each year since launch. The primary driver of regulated online gambling in the state has been casino games, which account for about 95 percent of all revenue, with poker providing the remaining 10 percent.
More growth is expected in 2018. While the growth may not be as dramatic as it has been in past years, we believe that established brands — including Golden Nugget’s online casino, Betfair NJ, Tropicana’s online casino, Virgin online casino, and Caesars casino online — have plenty of room to expand their customer base and revenues.
New games and improved payment options will be two of the major engines behind that growth. But we’ll also see more consumers using the sites as marketing and awareness continue to increase.
Meanwhile, we expect some new brands to enter the market to help stimulate growth in the market. All eyes are on the Hard Rock’s timeline for launch in New Jersey, as it’s believed the online casino arm of the Hard Rock will follow the launch of the land-based casino. And the recent confirmation that Revel has been sold and will be branded as the Ocean Resort Casino and is applying for an online gambling license adds yet another NJ online casino to the mix.