NJ August casino wins grew 31% from last year amid COVID reopenings

Daniel J. Munoz//September 17, 2021//

NJ August casino wins grew 31% from last year amid COVID reopenings

Daniel J. Munoz//September 17, 2021//

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New data on how New Jersey’s casinos fared in August show they won 31% more last month than in August 2020 amid COVID-19 restrictions, and 17.4%  more than they did prior to the pandemic in August 2019.

That’s according to figures released Sept. 16 by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which regulates the state’s nine casinos, three racetracks and sports-betting industry.

All those establishments were made to shut down their brick and mortar operations for several months last year at the start of the pandemic and then operate for more than a year at extremely reduced capacity. They relied on internet and mobile phone gaming for most of their income.

August’s data suggests a market where patrons streamed back into Atlantic City’s casinos and nearby tourist destinations this summer, according to industry insiders.

“Peak summer in the resort produced promising revenue returns for the city’s casinos,” reads a prepared statement from Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, which researches and studies the state’s gambling sector.

NJDGE figures show the casinos and racetracks took in a combined $427.6 million last month compared to $326.3 million in August 2020, which was the first full month that all the state’s casinos reopened following a three-and-a-half-month total shutdown. They had won a combined $352.8 million in August 2019.

The improved numbers span the three major forms of gambling: sports betting, in-person wagering, and online and mobile gambling.

The casinos won $262.4 million last month, a nearly 32% increase from last year, at their in-person operations. They won $113.2 million from online gaming, a 29% increase from last year. Sport betting brought in wins of $52 million,  a nearly 32% increase from last year. Patrons, as of August, have so far wagered $6.1 billion, of which $5.6 billion was online, compared to $2.6 billion by the same time last year.

Jane Bokunewicz, Institute Coordinator & Associate Professor of Hospitality, Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University.

“If pandemic mitigation efforts are successful in lowering transmission rates into the fall and winter and live events continue to return to the resort, we can expect a strong shoulder season fueled by continuing demand for experiences,” Bokunewicz said, adding that the state’s sportsbooks can expect to do well from the start of the NFL season.

Golden Nugget led the pack, winning $15.9 million in August, or nearly 71% more than last year. Following them was Tropicana, which won $38 million last month, a 43.6% jump from last year. Resorts Casino Hotel took in $18.7 million, 35.2% more than last year, while Hard Rock took in $52.5 million, 33% more than last year.

“We are encouraged by this momentum, which speaks to the comfort of visitors returning to the Jersey Shore this summer,” Hard Rock President Joe Lupo said in a July statement.

Ocean Casino resort took in $35 million, which was 31.7% up from last year. Borgata, which was the last casino to resume its brick and mortar operations, took in $94 million, a 31% jump from last year, followed by Harrah’s, which took in $28 million, a 30.5% increase from August 2020.

Caesars took in $25.5 million last month, a 16.7% increase from August 2020,

“In August 2020, all of Atlantic City’s casino hotels were open but business was affected by capacity restrictions and other limitations,” said James Plousis, chairman of the Casino Control Commission, another state agency. “These results demonstrate the casino hotels made strides building customer confidence since reopening.”