“If 2023 follows historical trends and January is the lowest month of the year, then this month’s results are quite encouraging,” said Jane Bokunewicz, faculty director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT), Stockton University School of Business, who analyzed the January 2023 numbers released Feb. 16 by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue (GGR) numbers were very strong, coming in at $211.7 million – a 15.3% increase from last January, and an encouraging sign to start the year for the casinos.
Bokunewicz said that even considering just these brick-and-mortar GGR figures, Atlantic City casinos operators have reason to be hopeful, pointing out that the first month of the year is historically the lowest GGR-generating month for casino operators.
“Brick-and-mortar GGR for the month surpassed the pre-pandemic high set in January 2020 ($192.1 million) and approached January monthly revenues not seen since 2012 ($245.9 million) and 2011 ($255.4 million), when there were more Atlantic City casinos in operation, and no sports wagering or online gaming,” said Bokunewicz.
Total gross gaming revenue, including sports betting, horse racing, and internet gaming for January was $436.9 million, a 14.5% increase from last January ($381.7 million).
Internet gaming continued its hot streak with a win figure in January of $152.9 million, a 10.9% jump from last January.
Sports betting numbers were a bit of a mixed bag, as New Jersey remains among the top markets in the country, but is facing tough regional competition from New York and other surrounding states. January’s total sports betting handle was $1.08 billion, which was up 2.5% from December ($1.06 billion), but down 19.8% from January 2022 ($1.35 billion).
The sports betting revenue from last month was $72.3 million; down 17.5% from December ($87.7 million), but up 20.2% from January 2022 ($60.2 million).
“2023 is off to a bit of a rocky start for New Jersey: while handle was up a mere 2.5% from September, revenue has taken a hit to the tune of a 17.5% month-over-month decrease,” said TopNJCasinos.com in its analysis of the gaming figures. “This may be due to sportsbooks offering more generous promotions at the beginning of the year, or, of course, bettors simply getting lucky and winning big.”
The analysis points out that Super Bowl and March Madness are the biggest sports betting events of the year, and will set the stage for the state’s most lucrative months.
“February and March will likely tout the highest handle and revenue numbers, and a strong end to Q1 of 2023 will set the tone for the remainder of the year,” TopNJCasinos.com said.
Separately on Thursday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement announced preliminary Super Bowl figures, which showed that wagering on this year’s big game totaled $109.3 million in New Jersey, with a projected payout of $96.5 million. That resulted in a $12.8 million win for the sportsbooks.
That handle is a drop of nearly 24% from last year’s record-setting handle of $143.7 million. But, the 11.7% hold rate – resulting in that win figure and a new record – was more than double last year’s hold rate of 5.4%, which led to $7.8 million in revenue.
The strong gaming report also comes just a day after the American Gaming Association (AGA) reported record national gaming figures for 2022, which NJBIZ reported on.
Between these promising trends and figures, especially amid economic headwinds and the slew of redevelopment projects either recently completed or in the works, Atlantic City has at least positioned itself for a potentially strong 2023.
“While far too early to call, continued strong performance in brick-and-mortar GGR could be an indicator that operators’ recent, and ongoing, investment in both the Atlantic City gaming and nongaming product is working – allowing the resort to effectively compete in an increasingly crowded tri-state gaming market, and amid inflationary pressures and economic concerns,” said Bokunewicz.