COVID-19’s impact: N.J.’s sportsbooks fall short in March while online casinos flourish

By Emily Bader
Atlantic City | Apr 16, 2020 at 11:47 am

With Gov. Murphy’s stay-at-home orders still in affect and most of the state’s residents forced indoors, New Jersey’s sportsbooks have taken a major hit, but online casinos and poker are flourishing.

“Shutdowns from the coronavirus pandemic are affecting New Jersey’s gaming industry in ways that are unprecedented, and that will continue until the country begins to return to some semblance of normalcy,” Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com, said. “New Jersey’s online casinos are a boon to the gaming industry, which employs thousands and generates millions in tax revenue for the state. But it’s not enough to fully bridge the gap from the revenue lost from sportsbooks and Atlantic City’s land-based casinos.”

In all, New Jersey’s sportsbooks took in $181.9 million in bets in March, a third of its expected handle of $550 million, losing out on nearly $370 million in wagers, PlayNJ.com estimated, while online gaming revenue hit $64.8 million, up 24% month-to-month, up 66% year-over-year from $39.1 million in March 2019 and up 18% from the previous record of $55.1 million in January.

“While overall gaming revenue for New Jersey was down, one bright spot can be found in the fact that the state has authorized online casino gaming, which saw a 65% increase in March compared to 2019,” Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business for Gambling.com Group, said.

Poker produced $3.6 million in revenue in March, beating its previous record of $3.1 million (October 2016). Online casino games also topped its previous record, generating $61.2 million and surpassing $53.3 million from January.

Online casinos and poker generated $2.1 million per day during the 31 days in March, yielding $9.7 million in state tax revenue.

“As one of the most progressive gaming states in the country, New Jersey is one of the few jurisdictions that offers online casino gaming which saw a significant boost in activity in March. While this won’t close the gap in revenue created by the closure of physical casinos, it will certainly help soften the blow,” Bichsel said.

March’s handle, which pushed the state’s sportsbooks past $7 billion in lifetime wagers, was the smallest collected since recording began in August 2018 ($95.6 million). March’s total sports betting handle was down 51.2% from the $372.5 million handle in March 2019 and down 63.2% from February 2020’s handle of $494.8 million.

The sportsbooks produced $13.2 million in gross revenue, yielding $1.7 million in tax revenue for the state. However, revenue declined 58% from $31.7 million year-over-year.

Online bets generated $163.4 million, or 89.9%, of the state’s handle in March, compared to $294 million in March 2019, a 44.4% decline.

“These are unprecedented times for New Jersey’s gaming industry which is one of the most developed in the country. After months of unprecedented growth for both casino gaming and sports betting, total gaming revenue saw an overall decline of 44% in March compared to last year,” Bichsel said.

Here’s a breakdown of online sportsbooks revenue:

  • FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet: $5.7 million, down from $9.7 million in February)
  • Resorts Digital/DraftKings/Fox Bet ($5.1 million, up from $4 million in February).
  • Monmouth/William Hill/Sugarhouse/TheScore ($849,236, down from $1.3 million)
  • BetMGM/Borgata ($609,235, down from $1 million)
  • Ocean Casino/William Hill ($635,620, up from $168,015)
  • Hard Rock/Bet365/Unibet ($167,314, up from $96,397)
  • Golden Nugget/BetAmerica ($143,209, down from $308,997)
  • Caesars Sportsbook/888sport ($44,413, up from $34,183)
  • Tropicana/William Hill ($17,180, down from $30,558)

Here’s a breakdown of retail sportsbooks revenue:

  • FanDuel Sportsbook at The Meadowlands ($233,360, down from $1.4 million)
  • Tropicana Casino ($42,081, down from $91,899)
  • Monmouth Park (-$196, up from -$51,888)
  • Bally’s AC (-$6,654, down from $32,199)
  • Golden Nugget (-$10,348, up from -$135,314)
  • Hard Rock AC (-$32,854, down from $19,294)
  • Harrah’s AC (-$39,058, down from $41,649)
  • Ocean Casino (-$68,436, up from -$65,868)
  • Resorts AC (-$93,821, down from $47,143)
  • Borgata (-$122,207, up from -$318,896)

“Professional leagues are trying to figure out a way to get back out on the field, which is the good news,” Gouker said. “The bad news is there is no way to know when that will be, and it doesn’t appear that it will be particularly soon. This is going to be a long road, not just for sportsbooks, but for everybody.”

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