In May of this year, the Supreme Court backed New Jersey’s bid to overturn Nevada’s monopoly on sports betting. New Jersey has always been close on Nevada’s tail when it comes to staying at the forefront of new trends in the gambling industry. Gambling laws in the state are among the most permissive in the US, with in-state online gambling having been legal since 2013.
There was some concern at the time about the impact that online gambling would have on casinos that were already struggling: but in 2016, the casino industry in AC posted a revenue increase – for the first time in a decade. The evidence increasingly suggests that learning to move with the times and embrace online gambling is what will keep Atlantic City’s casinos in business.
Online gambling has accounted for a growing proportion of New Jersey’s overall gambling revenue since it was first introduced in 2014: that year 4% of the state’s total gaming income came from online sources. It was up to 7.5% in 2016 and is expected to hit 10% by 2020 – and this revenue is outpacing the traditional casinos. The combined revenue from sites such as Betfair’s online casino in New Jersey – that’s casinos only, not taking into account other online gambling such as poker – now exceeds the revenues of the three lowest-grossing brick and mortar casinos in the state.
Part of the success in online gambling is, of course, the convenience – which helps the online gambling sector to weather (literally) factors that might drive down in-person casino visits. This past February was the third wettest Atlantic City has seen in 123 years – not the kind of weather for a stroll down the boardwalk – but online gambling was up 17.5% that month on the same month in the previous year, with online casinos accounting for most of that rise.
For whatever reason, online poker tables are not feeling the benefit: while NJ’s online casinos are feeling the boom, the seven online poker sites in the state are feeling the burn. These sites actually saw a fall in their collective revenue of over 18% to February 2018 from the same month last year.
This success began against a backdrop of traditional casinos closing down. At its peak, the AC boardwalk featured a grand total of twelve casinos, but the last ten years have seen an alarming number closing down, including the Trump Taj Mahal in 2016. Even when the buildings have been snapped up by developers, in some cases this is with a view to reopening them as hotels rather than new casinos.
However, there are encouraging signs of regrowth in the casino sector. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino reopened at the end of June on the old Trump Taj Mahal site, and industry experts hope the weight of the Hard Rock brand name will breathe new life back into the AC casino game. As long as casinos in the boardwalk city continue to capitalize on the opportunities online gambling offers them, there is no reason why Atlantic City gambling cannot survive and continue to grow.