NJ sportsbooks break record 3rd month in a row, with $803M in wagers

Daniel J. Munoz//November 16, 2020//

NJ sportsbooks break record 3rd month in a row, with $803M in wagers

Daniel J. Munoz//November 16, 2020//

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New Jersey’s sportsbooks broke their previous records for the third month in a row this October, taking in $803 million of total wagers, according to Friday data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Like with previous months, the vast majority of that – $744 million – was placed online, as the nine Atlantic City casinos operate at reduced capacity because of COVID-19. The state’s sportsbooks brought in nearly $748 million in September, beating their own record of $667 million in August. For the first 10 months of 2020, sportsbooks took in more than $4 billion.

Less than $60 million was bet at the brick and mortar handles in October. Overall, in-person casino revenue has consistently lagged since physical locations could reopen their doors after the July 4 weekend.

New Jersey’s casinos brought in $186 million from the gaming floors last month, an 8% drop from the $202 million in October 2019.

Internet gaming wins more than doubled, from $45 million in October 2019 to $93 million last month. Sports-betting revenue for the casinos was $18.7 million in October 2019, compared to $24.6 million last month.

“Casino win was 92% of last October’s performance even though the two years are not reasonably comparable,” James Plousis, who chairs the state’s Casino Control Commission, said in a Friday statement. “During this time, Atlantic City continues to show resilience in the face of necessary and ongoing restrictions on capacity, amenities, and entertainment.”

The state’s casinos and racetracks made $281.6 million from the state’s sportsbook during the first 10 months of 2020, compared to $237 million by October 2019.

Eric Ramsey, an analyst with PlayNJ.com, said on Friday that the New Jersey sportsbooks, with most of the sports wagers already placed online or via mobile apps, “was simply better prepared for the events of 2020.”

Meanwhile, online revenue was $779 million in the first 10 months of 2020, compared to $384 million in the first 10 months of 2019.

Winnings from the casino’s brick and mortar sites were nearly half what they were last year: $1.2 billion in the first 10 months of 2020, compared to $2.3 billion in the first 10 months of 2019.

“Online forms of gaming should not be considered a substitute for land-based gaming in terms of overall recovery for the industry,” cautioned Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism.

“Without guests on property, Atlantic City’s casinos are limited in their ability to leverage non-gaming amenities which limits their ability to put more employees back to work.”

With New Jersey several weeks into a potentially months-long second wave, and many visitors urged to avoid unnecessary travel, that trend could stand to worsen.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an order a week ago which prohibits bar seating and requires indoor dining to cease operations between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Borgata Hotel Casino said on Friday that it had to lay off roughly 73 staff and cut hours of another 349 workers, as a direct result of the order, which they said was devastating to a bottom line already weakened by the pandemic and surrounding restrictions.

They posted a nearly 90% hit to their brick and mortar winnings in July compared to the same month last year, a 44% hit in August, a 31% hit in September and a 20% hit in October.

Only two casinos fared better last month than in 2019 at their casino floors – Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort – both of which were the two most recent casinos to open their doors in the South Jersey resort town.

Hard Rock won nearly $29 million in October, a 17.7% jump from last year, while Ocean Resort Casino won $25 million, a 36.7% increase from last October.