New Jersey Casino, Sports Bet Revenues Hit High of $5.8B, but Most Casinos Trail Pre-COVID Levels

Gambling operators in the New Jersey market had a record-breaking year in 2023. According to the latest data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), the total gaming revenue generated last year by the Atlantic City casinos, racetracks, and their internet betting partners hit an all-time high of $5.77 billion. 

That’s almost an impressive 11% higher than 2022’s and slightly surpasses the previous record of $5.21 billion registered in 2006. Revenue made on physical premises accounted for nearly half of the total at $2.85 billion, up 2.2% on 2022 with table games revenue down 0.7% to $736 million and slots revenue soaring 3.3% to $2.11 billion.

However, a more incisive look at the numbers show mixed results for Atlantic City’s land-based casinos. While revenues from iGaming and sports betting surged in 2023, the majority of brick-and-mortar casinos in Atlantic City and racetracks are still earning less from in-person gamblers compared to their pre-Covid19 levels.

iGaming Continues Surging Growth in New Jersey

Internet gambling revenue increased nearly 16% last year in New Jersey to $1.92 billion. Since iGaming was legalized in New Jersey a decade ago, revenue has exploded from $122 million in 2013 to surpass $1 billion for the first time in 2021.

The state allows adults at least 21 years of age within its borders to access online poker rooms and online casinos operated by internet partners of Atlantic City casinos and racetracks. For instance, iGaming operator BetMGM runs Borgata Online Casino in New Jersey in Partnership with the brick-and-mortar property Borgata Atlantic City.

With customers able to place bets anywhere within the Garden state on their mobile and computers, online casinos and poker platforms have proven hugely popular in New Jersey, contributing a little shy of a third of all gambling revenue in 2023.

The combined revenue generated from iGaming last year reached $1.92 billion, out of which online casino games accounted for $1.89 billion. That’s an impressive 15.9% higher than the previous year. Meanwhile, the revenue from online poker surged a decent 5.6% to reach nearly $28 million.

On the iGaming front, Golden Nugget was the clear market leader, raking in close to $525 million from internet gambling at its online casino. That represents a notable increase of 21.6% from 2022. Resorts Digital was close second with $507.77 million in revenue, up 29.1% on 2022, followed by Borgata, which earned $489.9 million in 2023.

Tropicana won $92.96 million, up over 7.4%; Caesars Interactive NJ earned $90.32 million, down 20.7%, and Hard Rock won $80.62 million, up 16.3%. The biggest mover was Bally’s Atlantic City, which generated $82.78 million last year from iGaming, a humongous uptick of more than 98% compared to 2022.

Ocean Casino and Harrah’s rounded out the earner list with $54.44 million and $158,250 in internet gambling revenue, respectively. Ocean experienced the biggest dip in 2023’s iGaming revenue of nearly 83% compared to the previous year. The BoardWalk operator attributed its lackluster 2023 to a particularly low turnout at table games and continuing decreases in online slots action.

Sports Betting Revenue Up 31.9% from 2022 

As with internet gaming, sports betting revenue also mushroomed in 2023, following year after year increases since launching in 2018. Gross revenue from sports wagers placed at casinos, racetracks, and online sportsbooks rose almost 32% from 2022 to slightly over $1 billion after paying out winning wagers and other costs were paid.

The racetracks and AC casinos accepted over $12 billion worth of wagers placed in 2023. November’s haul of $117 million from football bets was the highest monthly total yet.

Meanwhile, the most sports betting action was seen in October. According to AP News, sportsbook operators, both online and at retail locations, took in nearly $1.3 billion worth of wagers, almost breaking their monthly sports handle hit in January 2022.

The increased revenue comes amid a surge in advertising aimed at sports fans by sportsbook operators like DraftKings, Caesars and FanDuel. Industry analysts believe New Jersey’s sports betting revenue could eventually overtake Nevada’s, the state which previously had a monopoly on legal sports gambling.

Revenues from In-Person Gambling Inch Towards Pre-Pandemic Business

While internet and sports betting propelled overall revenue growth, Atlantic City’s nine brick-and-mortar casinos have struggled to match business volumes from before COVID-19 rocked the industry in 2020.

Combined casino revenue increased 2.2% last year to $2.85 billion. But that remains 7% below the casinos’ winnings of $3 billion in 2019 prior to the pandemic. Only three of nine Atlantic City casinos ‒ Ocean Casino, Hard Rock, and Borgata — generated more from in-person gambling in 2023 than they won in 2019 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That left six operators struggling to reclaim their pre-Covid footing, including Tropicana, Harrah’s, Bally’s, and Caesars, which also operates Caesars Online Casino. They all won less from in-person gamblers last year than they did in 2019.

Atlantic City casinos were closed for three and half months in 2020 during state-ordered business shutdowns. Capacity restrictions remained in 2021 before fully reopening in 2022. While 2023 brought new highs for internet and sports betting revenue, in-person table games and slot machine revenue has been slower to recover.

Overall, Atlantic City properties with the most hotel rooms and amenities —notably meeting space, spas and indoor pools — have rebounded more strongly from groups and overnight guests. For example, the Hard Rock Casino, which opened in 2018, increased its in-person gaming revenue by nearly 20% last year thanks to concerts, higher hotel occupancy, and events driving action across the board.

Wrapping Up

While the pandemic dealt a severe blow, 2023’s record haul shows Atlantic City’s gambling industry has emerged resilient thanks to diversification beyond just slot machines and blackjack tables. If internet and sports betting growth continues and visitation rebounds further, industry insiders see a winning hand ahead.

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