New Jersey’s Gambling Sector Approaches Pre-COVID Levels

The gambling sector in New Jersey appears to be recovering from the damaging effects of the pandemic. According to a report from New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, the market in the state has been growing steadily and will likely continue to do so as time progresses. This has led analysts to believe that the market is finally on its way to pre-pandemic performance.

Although results indicate that operators in the state have experienced a slowdown in Q3 revenue compared to q2’s performance. Records indicate that August saw a total gaming revenue boost of 10.1% compared to the same period in 2021, thus allowing the state to reach a combined gaming revenue of $470.7 million.

In Q2, the net revenue for the 3 months between April and June totaled $828.8 million, which represents a 14.1% increase when compared to the results generated during the same period last year. In Q2, the gambling industry also realized a gross operating profit totaling $183.6 million.

The first 6 months of this year produced an increase of close to 20% in net revenue to reach $1.5 billion compared to the first 6 months of 2021. During Q2, hotel occupancy also grew by 77%. As far as individual casinos are concerned, Hard Rock remained the highest-ranked casino hotel in Atlantic City, boasting an occupancy rate of more than 95%.

Golden Nugget, on the other hand, realized the lowest occupancy rate with a rate much lower than 58%. Based on figures generated by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the 9 casinos in New Jersey posted combined profits exceeding the $159.3 million that was recorded in Q2 2021. 

However, 4 of the New Jersey casinos also posted losses in Q2 2022 compared to Q2 2019. New Jersey’s 9 brick and mortar casinos also collectively generated $299 million in proceeds from in-person betting. When looking at the individual casinos namely Bally’s, Golden Nugget, Harrah’s, Tropicana, and Borgata, the profits produced in July 2022 were much lower compared to July 2019’s revenue.

The state shows steady signs of growth this August

Based on figures shared by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey’s brick-and-mortar and online sportsbooks are now recording steady growth after a slow, few months in the summer. Figures shared by NJDGE reveal that gambling revenue increased by 17% compared to August 2021 to reach $664 million.

New Jersey’s handle had been on a decline since March with punters in the state losing interest after the conclusion of the NFL playoffs and the basketball season. In July, casino operators in New Jersey recorded the lowest monthly total since the pandemic in July 2020. In addition, to the sparsely populated sports schedule, sportsbooks in the Garden Estate have been struggling to stand out against the much bigger market across the pond in New York.

Since the Empire state legalized its sports betting market in January this year, New York is officially the highest sports betting revenue generator in the country. Punters in New York placed more than $2 million in bets and generated close to $80 million in tax revenue at the beginning of the year. These numbers easily surpassed Nevada, which was once the gambling mecca of America, and New Jersey, which had for years maintained the number 1 mobile sports betting spot since legalization in 2018.

New York’s sudden transformation into America’s most successful bookmaking market has been part of the post-pandemic reversal of the gambling industry as a whole. It has also been a clear indication of the unrelenting appetite for sports betting across the country. Of course, New York’s burgeoning market has weighed on New Jersey’s handles as New Yorkers no longer have to cross over to New Jersey to place wagers on their favorite sports teams.

Although New Jersey operators have proven that they are resilient, the last few months of recorded handle for the state have been much lower compared to the same period in 2021. Thanks to the NFL season which kicked off on September 8th, sportsbooks can now expect to record a significant uptick in the monthly handle and it is already showing.

By the end of September, casinos, sports betting and iGaming revenue had improved by 7%. Based on reports from the state’s enforcement agency, the casinos and horse tracks allowed to offer sports betting generated close to $485 million in September. All 9 casinos in New Jersey performed so well that they even managed to edge past the revenue collected from in-person bettors in September 2019, long before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the world.

Sports betting operators produced $252 million more than they did 3 years ago, which is indeed evidence that the gambling sector is on its way to recovery. A lot of the improved performance can be attributed to 2 major casinos; Hard Rock and Oceans Casino. The remaining 7 casinos still appear to be catching up to pre-pandemic as far as in-person gambling is concerned.

The state’s casinos and the 3 horse tracks that are permitted to accept sports wagers, on the other hand, collected almost $867 million worth of sports wagers this September. This $867 million generated a revenue of $98 million after expenses and wagers were paid. This is an increase of more than 20% compared to the same period last year. iGaming also managed to generate an excess of $135 million in September, which was an increase of more than 10% compared to last year. 

Final Thoughts

All in all, New Jersey is still well-placed to dominate the gambling market. Even though New York may now be the country’s gambling mecca, New Jersey has one thing that New York doesn’t- iGaming. As such, operators will keep pushing and working hard to innovate as they look for paths to profitability. 

Part of the Empire State’s massive success stems from its size. Of the states that have legalized mobile sports wagers, New York is the most populous. New Jersey faces a daunting battle with the Empire State. The good news is that the demand for betting in both states is intense, which should help to keep both markets busy and competitive.

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