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Even with indoor dining, casinos rely on online gambling, sports betting

The numbers are in for the first full month of indoor dining in New Jersey, and Thursday data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which regulates gambling in the state, found casinos are still relying heavily on online gambling for the bulk of their profits.

Gaming revenue was actually up last month compared to September 2019 by 6.5%, earning $323.3 million this year, and $303.5 million last September. But that performance is due to online gaming, which brought in $87.6 million this September compared to $41 million last year—a 113% increase year-over-year.

Casino win – that is, from physical floors in Atlantic City – was $190.5 million last month, compared to $224.5 million in September 2019.

“This is a great result during a pandemic with capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements suppressing brick and mortar casino revenues,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator at Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism. “Internet gaming and sports wagering have clearly played the biggest part in recent month-over-month increases.”

Many casino owners were hoping for a rebound of patronage because of indoor dining. But Bokunewicz cautioned that staple Atlantic City amenities, such as live entertainment and conventions that bring patrons to the resort city during the colder months, “will present a challenge going forward.”

“There aren’t many industries that have rebounded with such high velocity post-pandemic to record revenue numbers. Online casino and sports betting have seen a meteoric rise over the last eight months,” reads a Thursday statement from Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business at the Gambling.com Group. “New Jersey is the model for the 45 or so states that haven’t legalized online gaming yet.”

Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayNJ.com.

Gouker

Sports betting beat its own record in the state, bringing in a record-high $678.7 million, compared to what was then a record-high $602 million in August.

“September was a once-in-a-lifetime moment on the sports calendar when all four major U.S. sports were playing meaningful games all at once, which was obviously a boon for sportsbooks,” Dustin Gouker, lead analyst at PlayNJ.com, said on Thursday.

“The growth seen over the last two months will likely level off once the sports schedule returns to normal,” he said. “But it’s clear New Jersey’s sports betting industry is setting a new floor.”

Patrons wagered $69 million at the state’s brick and mortar sportsbooks, which are situated at eight of the state’s nine casinos, and two of the state’s three racetracks for a total of $748.6 million at the state’s online and in-person sportsbooks.

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Daniel J. Munoz
Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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