No sector, other than perhaps local restaurants, have been affected as much as the casino shutdowns in NJ. It’s hard to imagine an industry that hasn’t suffered from the government-mandated shutdowns in response to COVID-19 more than casinos and restaurants.
Social distancing, mask mandates, and reduced capacities have damaged an industry that depends on lots of customers. Casino shutdowns in NJ have lingered months, forcing Atlantic City’s nine casinos to look for other ways to generate revenue, while keeping their doors open.
Casino Shutdowns in NJ Push Gamblers to Online Casinos
A few, like the Mohegan Sun Casino in neighboring Connecticut, were able to post profits despite the casino shutdowns in NJ. That’s because the Mohegan Sun is licensed to offer an online casino in the Garden State. The Mohegan Sun reported July revenue of $47.5 million, a 1.7% increase year-over-year from $46.7 million in 2019.
Despite the casino shutdowns in NJ, the Golden Nugget also managed to turn a profit, with their popular online casino. It’s easy to see why casino companies worldwide are turning to online sportsbooks and casinos to stay relevant.
In 2017, the online casino industry was valued at $45.8 billion, but by 2024, that’s expected to exceed $94 billion.
NJ Online Casinos Keep the Dice Rolling
It’s easy to understand why NJ gamblers are attracted to online casinos. Regardless of the government-mandated casino shutdowns in NJ, they could still play a wide variety of games comparable to those in land-based casinos.
Another advantage is that online casino games are frequently updated. Moreover, players can enjoy their favorite games whenever and wherever they are, despite the lingering casino shutdowns in NJ. All they need is a computer or mobile device and a good internet connection.
The lure of online casinos in NJ has only increased in recent months. Since the casino shutdowns in NJ, there has been a huge surge in online gaming. When comparing year-over-year trends, there was a 40% increase in the number of players interacting with online casinos and sports betting in March 2020 compared to the previous year. Online poker increased in popularity by 38% and the number of online slot players increased by 25%.
The Coronavirus Helped Online Gaming
The increased popularity of online gaming and sports betting is part of the wider trend since the COVID-19 lockdowns wreaked havoc on the world economy. You don’t need to be a genius to see that the lockdowns provided more opportunities for online gaming.
The numbers for online gaming are truly mind-boggling.
For example, YouTube searches for “gaming” nearly doubled year-over-year, and that’s not all. Google reported an impressive 20x increase in traffic for the search term, “online games to play with friends” from February through March 2020.
Nielson reported an all-time high for video game use in the United States, with a 46% increase during March. There was also a substantial increase in the number of people watching online streaming services such as Netflix and Twitch. This just shows that the online boom isn’t unique to online casinos.
The Future of the NJ Casinos
As the worldwide online gaming industry has experienced a massive spike during the lockdown, land-based casinos can only hope that the online spike can offset some of their losses.
While the casino shutdowns in NJ have eased, the remaining coronavirus safety precautions are sure to keep some visitors away. However, the Atlantic City casinos that already have online options, such as the Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Caesars, MGM, Hard Rock, and Borgata, managed to weather the storm.
It’s hoped that by next summer, the Jersey Shore will be able to welcome back a million or more visitors to the casinos lining the boardwalk. But in the meantime, online casinos and sportsbooks can help make up for some of the shortfalls.