Final Four, tourism helped push N.J.’s sportsbooks into strong month, reports show

By Emily Bader
Atlantic City | May 16, 2019 at 7:10 am

Atlantic City continued to show growth last month in tourism, gaming revenue and sports betting, according to a Division of Gaming Enforcement report for April.

“Atlantic City was a key factor in New Jersey’s tourism boom in 2018, attracting new visitors to the Garden State,” Debra P. DiLorenzo, CEO and president, Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey. “The passage of sports wagering helped create new jobs, generated economic growth and provided an important boost to the casino industry. As we ready for the 2019 tourism season to begin, we are confident that Atlantic City will continue to thrive and grow.”

The Final Four also helped push New Jersey’s online and retail sportsbooks to a strong April, according to a PlayNJ.com report. This began to take root as a trend 10 months after sports betting in the state was legalized, company analysts said.

“Nearly a full year in, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of how New Jersey bettors react to certain products and sports,” Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayNJ.com, said. “While there are a lot of similarities between Nevada and New Jersey, the bettors of the Northeast behave a bit differently than in the West. For instance, New Jersey’s overwhelming preference for online betting has been obvious, and the region’s enthusiasm for college basketball and pro baseball are showing in the state’s handle.”

PlayNJ.com found New Jersey’s online and retail sportsbooks accepted $313.7 million in bets in April, down 16% from $372.5 million in March.

“The New Jersey market has differentiated itself from Nevada in a number of ways, so it is not surprising that baseball drew more interest relative to overall handle in the Garden State,” Gouker said. “New Jersey’s proximity to New York and Philadelphia, each with some of the largest baseball fanbases in the country, certainly helps drive interest at sportsbooks.”

The DGE report, which was released Wednesday, showed April gaming revenue for Atlantic City was more than $250 million. This is a 16.9% increase when compared to last year and the 11th straight month of year-over-year growth for the industry.

The report also said New Jersey’s online casinos and sportsbooks saw total gross gaming revenue drop $10.27 million month-over-month as well as online gambling operators in the state generated a total of $53.08 million in online gross revenue compared to $63.36 million last month.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Total gaming revenue for 2019 is nearly $1 billion;
  • Online gaming revenue declined 16.2% to $36 million in April compared to the prior month, but it was up 58.9% over April 2018;
  • Sports betting revenue for Atlantic City casinos was more than $6.5 million in April 2019;
  • The industry generated more than $21 million in taxes and fees collected by the state in April 2019.

“The April 2019 DGE numbers are a promising sign of Atlantic City’s continued growth as the summer season quickly approaches,” Kevin Ortzman, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said. “Sports betting without question has provided a major boost to the local economy, and we believe this excitement will translate into increased revenue and tourism throughout the summer.”

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | emilybader