After Historic Year, What Does 2024 Have in Store For New Jersey Gambling?

In 2023, legal gambling in New Jersey experienced unprecedented success, marking one of the most prosperous periods for Atlantic City casinos in nearly two decades. This is unsurprising because since the state legalized its iGaming market, it has consistently demonstrated the significant impact of online platforms on the overall gambling industry.

The surge in success can be attributed to the growing popularity of online casinos in the Garden State, as well as its robust sports betting market. These factors have not only revitalized the revenue streams for traditional brick-and-mortar casinos but have also played a crucial role in positioning New Jersey as a frontrunner in the evolving landscape of legal gambling all across the country.

Standout revenue performance for New Jersey gambling in 2023

When neighboring New York legalized its market, New Jersey’s market was under threat because it used to generate a huge chunk of its revenue from New York gamblers. Since gambling wasn’t legal in New York, these residents would cross over to New Jersey, and the financial benefits to the Garden State were rewarding.

However, this is no longer the case, and despite the lack of the additional revenue boost that used to come from New York punters, New Jersey still appears to be thriving and growing. In 2023, New Jersey’s legal gambling industry reached unprecedented heights, with a record-breaking total revenue of $5.78 billion (£4.59 billion/€5.32 billion). 

This remarkable achievement was fueled by exceptional performances in both the online gaming (iGaming) sector and sports betting. The flourishing iGaming market, marked by the popularity of online casinos, played a pivotal role in propelling the state’s gambling revenue to new heights.

The growth in 2023 reflected a substantial increase of 10.9% compared to the previous year’s total of $5.21 billion. Breaking down the revenue figures, land-based casinos continued to be the primary contributors, accounting for $2.85 billion—a remarkable year-on-year rise of 2.2%.

The retail slots sector experienced a significant boost, with revenue increasing by 3.3% to reach $2.11 billion. However, the table games segment reported a modest decline of 0.7%, generating $736.2 million in revenue. Interestingly, table games were the sole subsection of the market to record lower revenue in 2023.

iGaming revenue in the state also surged to new heights. The total iGaming revenue for the state reached an impressive $1.92 billion, marking a substantial increase of 15.7% compared to the previous year. Breaking down the figures, online slots emerged as a major contributor to this growth, with revenue soaring by 15.9% to reach $1.89 billion. 

Additionally, peer-to-peer poker experienced a commendable uptick, with a 5.6% increase, generating $28.9 million in revenue. Among the key players in the New Jersey igaming market, Golden Nugget secured the top spot, boasting $524.8 million in revenue for the year. 

Resorts Digital claimed the second position with $507.8 million, closely followed by the Borgata, which reported $489.9 million in revenue. This competitive landscape illustrates the dynamic and flourishing nature of New Jersey’s online gambling market, with strong performances from leading operators contributing to the overall success of the state’s iGaming sector.

New Jersey’s sports betting sector also celebrated a historic achievement in 2023, with revenue reaching an unprecedented yearly high of $1.01 billion. This remarkable figure represented a significant increase of 31.9% compared to the previous year and represented the first time the state surpassed the $1.00 billion mark in sports betting revenue.

The success in sports betting was fueled by higher player engagement, with sports bettors in New Jersey wagering a total of $11.97 billion on sports throughout the year. This annual handle reflected a notable uptick of 9.5% from the previous year’s $10.93 billion. The majority of the wagers, amounting to $11.44 billion, were placed online, while $527.8 million came from retail sportsbooks.

So, what does 2024 have in store for New Jersey gambling?

As the state looks to replicate its winning streak, there is plenty in store for gamblers in New Jersey in the new year. One of the biggest developments to look out for would be the war over smoking in casinos. The contentious debate over smoking inside Atlantic City casinos has spilled over into 2024, keeping stakeholders on edge as they await the resolution of this long-standing issue. 

The end of 2023 appeared to signal a potential conclusion to the debate, with a bill aiming to permanently ban smoking on casino floors in Atlantic City garnering substantial support in both the state Senate and Assembly. The bill seemed poised for success during the lame-duck session.

However, in a dramatic turn of events in the 11th hour, the Atlantic City casino industry flexed its political influence, effectively halting the anti-smoking legislation. The Senate bill failed to progress beyond committee hearings, preventing it from reaching a full vote by the State Legislature. 

This unexpected setback in 2023 dealt a blow to casino workers and advocates who had been advocating for a smoking ban for over a decade. As a new legislature is sworn in, the fate of a casino smoking ban remains uncertain, and there are no assurances that it will receive the same level of support. 

The casino industry is vehemently opposing a smoking ban, setting the stage for continued tension. Groups like CEASE (Casino Workers Against Smoking’s Effects) and the UAW are intensifying their efforts to push for a smoking ban, ensuring that the battle persists into 2024.

Plus, while the potential impact of a smoking ban on the casinos’ financial performance remains a topic of debate, there is an indisputable and tangible threat on the horizon—New York City casinos. The imminent arrival of three downstate New York casinos poses a clear and present danger to Atlantic City’s gaming establishments. 

The certainty of this development adds a layer of urgency to the ongoing battle over smoking regulations. As New York prepares to introduce new competitors to the gaming industry, Atlantic City casinos are acutely aware of the need to navigate these economic challenges strategically.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the year 2023 witnessed a remarkable chapter in the history of legal gambling in New Jersey, with unprecedented success propelling Atlantic City casinos to a level of prosperity not seen in nearly two decades. While facing the challenges posed by neighboring New York’s legalization, as well as an imminent casino smoking ban, we wait to see whether New Jersey will continue to weather the storm and thrive in 2024.

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