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Online gaming helps shuttered casino industry stay afloat in June
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Online gaming helps shuttered casino industry stay afloat in June

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ATLANTIC CITY — Online gaming revenue continued to grow in the final month of the casino shutdown, increasing more than 123% in June.

Internet casino revenue was $84.9 million last month, compared with $38.1 million from online gaming in June 2019, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

June was the third consecutive month during which revenue from online gaming increased by more than 100% over the same period in 2019.

Through June, online gaming revenue has almost doubled compared to the first six months of 2019, generating more than $422.7 million.

Atlantic City’s nine casinos were ordered closed by Gov. Phil Murphy on March 16 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. On July 2, Atlantic City casinos were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity.

“Although internet gaming has been on an overall upward revenue trajectory since it was launched in 2013, the increase over the last few months has been even greater with the closure of brick and mortar casinos,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University. “Thankfully, June will be the last month with zero brick and mortar casino revenue for Atlantic City. Even at 25% capacity, there is nowhere to go from here but up.”

Without table games or slot machines and very limited sports wagering options available, total gaming revenue for the casino industry declined more than 67% in June to just under $91 million.

All three full months of casino closures — April, May, June — resulted in total revenue declines of more than 65%.

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“June was the last full month of casino closures, and the figures reflect the historic business disruption across the region and beyond,” said Casino Control Commission Chairman James Plousis.

Sports betting revenue was up last month, generating slightly more than $6 million. In June 2019, reported revenue from sports wagering was $4 million. Just over $165 million was wagered on sports in New Jersey — including online sites for the state’s two racetracks — in June.

Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business at Group, said a “typical June, with headline events like the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, and the NBA Draft, would have generated $400 million in sports betting handle in New Jersey.”

“If MLB and the NBA return this summer as planned, expect New Jersey to get back closer to pre-pandemic numbers like $400 million in sports betting handle by September,” he said, adding that a “pent up demand for sports” would lead to an increase in betting activity in July as more events and games resume.

Year-to-date, total gaming revenue reported by Atlantic City is down more than 36% compared to 2019. The $965 million reported by the industry through the end of June includes a decrease in casino win — revenue from table games and slot machines — of more than 60%.

The Atlantic City casino industry reported more than $3.2 billion in total gaming revenue last year.

Atlantic City casinos were permitted to reopen earlier this month with limited capacity on the gaming floor and mandated health and safety protocols. Smoking, drinking and eating on the casino floor are prohibited under the state guidelines.

”Now that casinos have begun welcoming back visitors with appropriate limits, Atlantic City has started on the road to recovery,” Plousis said, noting that he toured each of the city’s properties. “I was impressed by the casinos’ ingenuity in finding ways to deliver amenities and keep guests comfortable in the new social environment. The public can and should feel secure as they resume enjoying everything that Atlantic City has to offer.”

Five casinos — Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Ocean Casino Resort, Resorts Casino Hotel and Tropicana Atlantic City — opened July 2. Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s three properties — Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City — opened to the public the next day after invite-only guests were welcomed back the day prior.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was originally scheduled to reopen to the public July 6, but choose not to after the governor halted the resumption of indoor dining statewide. Borgata announced Tuesday that the casino hotel would reopen to the public at 10 a.m. July 26.

Contact: 609-272-7222

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Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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