New Jersey, Pennsylvania See iGaming Take Off But COVID-19 Still Costs States Millions in March Gaming Tax Revenues

Posted on: April 17, 2020, 06:18h. 

Last updated on: April 17, 2020, 11:42h.

Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 outbreak caused casino and sports betting March revenues in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to crater. However, unlike most other states that allow gaming, the two Mid-Atlantic states were able to offset some of their losses through iGaming.

New Jersey Pennsylvania iGaming
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will see the state’s budget get $9.7 million in casino taxes from March. But the COVID-19 shutdown led to retail casinos and sportsbooks providing nearly $12 million less in tax revenue than they did in March 2019. (Image: Phil Murphy for Governor/Wikimedia Commons)

Year-to-year revenue at New Jersey’s brick-and-mortar casinos fell by 61.7 percent in March, as the state’s nine licensed venues in Atlantic City recorded revenues of just $85.5 million. That’s according to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

New Jersey’s neighbor to the west reported a similar 61 percent loss last month at its 12 state-licensed casinos. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported that the combined revenue for slots and table games equaled just $120.7 million for the month.

Both states issued closing orders for their casinos a month ago, with six Pennsylvania casinos voluntarily shutting down prior to Gov. Tom Wolf’s mandated March 17 closing. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued his state’s directive effective the night before.

Even before the closures, traffic at the states’ casinos dropped off precipitously, as many stayed away from casinos and other large public gathering areas for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

The outbreak also caused unprecedented closures and suspensions of major professional and collegiate sporting events.

Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks saw their collective handle drop by nearly $200 million from February as they took in just $131.3 million in bets. Still, taxable revenue in March for the Keystone State books rose from the prior month, as they reported $6.9 million in winnings.

New Jersey reported a sports betting handle of just $181.9 million for March, a 52 percent drop from the year before. Revenues plunged by 58.4 percent from last year, as the sportsbooks and mobile applications reported winnings of just $13.2 million last month.

Online Taxes Don’t Cover Shortfalls

New Jersey’s online gaming revenues in March shot up by 65.6 percent from the previous year. The licensed mobile applications took in $64.8 million, an increase of $25.1 million from March 2019. That helped keep iGaming in the state on a sharp tick upward.

For the 2020 fiscal year, the state’s iGaming apps have produced $171.9 million, compared to the $104.5 million they generated for the first nine months of the 2019 fiscal year.

In March, New Jersey’s online casinos produced $9.7 million. That was up $3.6 million from last year. However, the state’s sports betting and retail casino taxes fell by $11.8 million from March 2019 to last month.

Pennsylvania, which just started iGaming last summer, reported $24.3 million in revenue from its licensees. That generated $8.6 million in taxes for the state and local communities.

Meanwhile, the tax revenue from Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar slots and table games fell by $67.5 million from March 2019, with just $50.5 million reported last month.

FanDuel Reports Rapid Growth Online

While both states still have millions in tax revenue to account for, the good news is iGaming is gaining traction, as the COVID-19 outbreak keeps retail casinos closed.

On Friday morning, Flutter Entertainment released its quarterly report. In the four weeks since nearly all brick-and-mortar gaming shut down in the United States, the company’s US gaming revenue has grown by about 200 percent.

That’s on top of the 260 percent growth FanDuel saw from Jan. 1 to March 15. That growth was largely due to the fact that Flutter’s FanDuel online casino opened in Pennsylvania on Jan. 20. According to Flutter’s press release, FanDuel account for a quarter of the market share in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey each have 32 licensed online casino and poker applications.