What goes up, must come down. Or, in this case, it must at least start going up more slowly. That’s the story out of New Jersey, where online gambling revenues continue to grow for the state – though not as quickly as they did in the last two months.
Second Month Numbers Up
The raw numbers for New Jersey’s Internet casinos and poker sites were definitely improved in February. All told, the sites brought in a combined $10.3 million, up 8.9 percent from January. That helped offset a 6.2 percent decline in land-based casinos in Atlantic City, which brought in just $199.1 million during the month. Overall, that meant that total revenues were down just 1.5 percent from last year, when online gambling didn’t exist to buoy the numbers somewhat.
Growth of close to 9 percent is certainly not a problem for New Jersey’s fledgling online gambling industry, but it might not be the kind of growth state and casino officials were hoping for after what they saw in January. The first month of the year – the second full month of play on the sites – saw growth of 28 percent in month-over-month revenues compared to last December.
That has led some to wonder if the New Jersey market is starting to plateau, reaching a point where further growth will be slow (if hopefully steady). But for many in the industry who weren’t sure what to expect, the numbers so far have been more than adequate.
“We are delighted with the way it has started,” said Brian Mattingly, CEO of 888 Holdings. “All of us got into a good rhythm and started some good marketing. Overall, I’m delighted with where we’re at.”
Borgata/Boyd Partnership at the Helm
The Borgata Casino once again led the way in the online gambling sector, as their joint venture with Boyd Gaming (which owns about half of the Borgata) and MGM Resorts brought in $4.09 million – just under 40 percent of the entire market. Caesars Entertainment – which partners with 888 Holdings to deliver their online gambling products – came in a strong second, bringing in $3.34 million (about 32 percent of the market). Borgata and Caesars have quickly established themselves as the leaders in the New Jersey market, with all other online sites combined bringing in less revenue than either of their offerings.
“We were particularly encouraged by the performance of Borgata’s online casino site, which achieved month-over-month revenue growth of 36 percent,” said Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith. “Looking ahead, we continue to see significant opportunities for future growth in New Jersey.”
The total number of accounts at New Jersey sites was up significantly as well. As of February 28, there were 248,241 active Internet gambling accounts in the state, though it is not clear how many of those belonged to unique individuals.
While the numbers coming in may be close to what industry analysts expected, they’re far short of what would be needed to meet Governor Chris Christie’s hopes of generating $180 million in tax revenues for the state. The Christie administration has since admitted those numbers were unrealistic, and revised them downward. Recently, the state government said they will no longer make such estimates for online and brick-and-mortar revenues, and instead try to estimate the overall gambling industry instead.
“Given the complex connections between Internet and on-site gaming, we do not bear down the anticipated total collections between the two sources,” said New Jersey Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff in a letter to state Senator Paul Sarlo.