Normally, when it rains, it pours.

That wasn’t the case this past month when a spike in online gambling helped temper losses that Atlantic City casinos suffered at the hands of the third wettest February in the past 123 years.

A statement from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement noted that year-on-year revenue for casinos this February was down 8.9 percent, but NJ online gambling was up 17.5 percent with most of those gains coming from online casinos.

Weather keeps gamblers at their computers

By operating profitable online gambling platforms, brick-and-mortar casinos have hedged their bets against Mother Nature. AC casinos provide gamblers a way to play even when the weather doesn’t permit a leisurely drive to Atlantic City.

This past month is the perfect example. The city’s seven casinos took in $170.1 million on their gaming floors compared to $186.6 million the year before.

However, online gambling jumped from $18.7 million in February 2017 to $22 million this year.

So, while casinos saw an 8.9 percent decrease in revenue from within their walls, the online gambling spike led to a 6.5 percent overall decrease.

Golden Nugget shines amid the gloom

Golden Nugget was the only casino among the seven to post gains in their casino as well as online.

According to the DGE’s numbers, their casino floor took in 4.7 percent more revenue this February than they did last year: $17.1 million to $16.4 million.

The Nugget’s three online casinos, including Betfair and SugarHouse, pulled in $7.88 million in February, which represents a 52.36 percent increase over revenue from February 2017 ($5.17 million).

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Caesars wishing it was 2017

While Golden Nugget was the big winner for the month, Caesars was the only casino to post losses in their year-on-year numbers.

The casino’s six websites pulled in 8.68 percent less than they did in February 2017. Caesars operates four online casinos and two poker sites; the poker sites saw a more than 17 percent decrease in revenue.

Online flood didn’t spill over into poker

While revenues for online gambling were up, those gains were largely the product of heavy user presence in NJ online casinos. The state’s seven poker sites saw a collective 18.31 percent drop in revenue from February 2017 to February 18.

Resorts’ pokerstarsnj.com suffered the biggest loss: 22.02 percent. Next was Caesers, then Borgata, whose trio of poker sites saw a 13.36 percent drop in revenue.

In other words, February’s nasty weather drove people to gamble in online casinos, not at online poker tables.

Looking ahead to February 2019

This summer, both Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino will open. When the doors swing wide to welcome the first gamblers to the casino floor, all signs seem to indicate that those who don’t want to drive to Atlantic City for a seat at a slot machine or tables will be able to get the Hard Rock/Ocean Resort experience at both casinos’ online gambling sites.

Earlier this year Ocean Resort announced it will be working with online operator GAN to develop the casino’s iGaming platform.

Hard Rock announced it would work with international operator GiG. In an email correspondence with representatives from GiG and Hard Rock, both companies expressed excitement about the opportunity.

“Hard Rock has ambitious plans to become a global leader in iGaming, and we are proud to have been selected to help them,” GiG CEO Robin Reed wrote. “We get to partner with one of the world’s best-known brands to make a standout new online casino. It is really an exciting time at GiG.”

Next February will certainly be an interesting fulcrum for comparison, as two new sites will be in the mix. While cannibalization could be a possibility, Hard Rock International Director of Online Gaming Product Lee Terfloth said he’s not worried about casinos taking online customers from competitors.

“The market has been very accommodating of late entrants thus far. Each time a major site has entered the market, the gross gaming revenue has increased not just for skin it entered under, but for the market in general,” Terfloth wrote. “To date, we have not seen a single site that has cannibalized customers from another site, which is extremely positive.”

J.R. Duren

About

A three-time winner of the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest, J.R. Duren works as a freelance writer with a focus on the NJ online gambling and online casino industry. He writes for a number of publications, including Bespoke Post, Our Amazing Norway, Barcelona Metropolitan, Snooth, and the Villages Daily Sun.