Now that it is over, it is easy to say that 2018 will go down as one of the most active for New Jersey gambling sites.
Looking back, there are some specific days on the calendar that completely changed the gambling market and will end up leaving a lasting impression for years to come.
The NJ online gambling industry in January 2019 looks completely different than it did in January 2018. Furthermore, it will likely continue to evolve in 2019 as well.
For now, though, here is a look at the dates that shaped the NJ gambling industry as it starts the new year.
1. May 14, 2018
After a lengthy and costly legal battle, the state of New Jersey emerged victorious in its legal battle with the NCAA and the major sports leagues.
The US Supreme Court, in a 6-3 vote ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is “not consistent with the Constitution.”
As such, May 14 might be the most important date of all of these.
The decision paved the way for each state to legalize sports betting, but New Jersey was one step ahead with a sports betting law already on the books.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) immediately went to work outlining the regulations required for casinos to secure an NJ sports betting license.
While the DGE was hard at work, the level of speculation about revenue, partnerships, and launch plans took on a fevered pace, a pace that would last until the end of the year.
One sportsbook in particular, Monmouth Park, was chomping at the bit to accept the state’s very first sports wager. The sportsbook was even contemplating taking sports bets before regulations were in place. The DGE didn’t look too kindly on that plan, and Monmouth Park ended up sitting on the sidelines with a persistent itch to get in the game.
2. June 14, 2018
Interestingly enough, Monmouth Park was the only company voicing its sports betting plans. It was a little surprising that there wasn’t a rush to the starting line.
Even so, Monmouth Park had company when NJ sports betting was ready to enter prime time.
Monmouth Park accepted the first NJ sports bet exactly one month after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. A few hours later, Borgata became the first Atlantic City casino to accept a sports bet.
Those two sportsbooks would hold court for two weeks until the launch of Ocean Resort Casino’s sportsbook which coincided with the hotel’s grand opening.
From there it seemed like a new sportsbook came online every few weeks until the end of August. At that time there were eight NJ sportsbooks in operation: two at racetracks and six at AC casinos. Then, Tropicana came online a little late to the party in October, making it nine.
The growth in sports betting revenue has exceeded expectations. In July, the first full month of operation, brick-and-mortar casinos accepted $40,682,237 worth of sports bets, including futures bets.
That figure translated to $3,845,880 of revenue for the sportsbooks.
For November, AC casinos accepted sports bets totaling $92,132,952 for $6,797,295 in revenue. Doubling revenue in just a few short months puts NJ sports betting under the national spotlight as other states contemplate legalizing sports betting.
The best part? The NJ sports betting market is just getting started. We are certainly looking forward to a prosperous 2019.
3. June 28, 2018
Besides sports betting, the other big story shaping the NJ casino landscape was two casinos coming back to life.
After a severe economic downturn that resulted in the closing of five casinos, the timing was right for the re-introduction of two of them.
New investment in two of those casinos generated a sense of optimism about AC’s future that hadn’t been felt in years.
The Boardwalk was one big party over the last weekend in June, as both casinos opened their doors on the same day.
The former Trump Taj Mahal found new life as Hard Rock Atlantic City. And the former Revel Casino was reborn as Ocean Resort.
Speculation leading up to the grand opening was how the two new casinos on the Boardwalk would impact the old-timers. AC casinos were generating solid revenue figures with several months of record numbers.
The fear was Hard Rock and Ocean Resort would cannibalize the other casino’s revenue.
Initial revenue reporting from the first few months shows Hard Rock and Ocean Resort are impacting the profits of the other casinos while contributing to record revenue for the industry.
For example, the total casino win for November was $209.2 million, an increase of 12.6 percent compared to the same month last year.
Borgata, the casino revenue leader, earned $55,788,971 for the month. That is a 7.6 percent decrease compared to the same period last year.
It seems logical that 2019 will see the casino industry continue to adjust as necessary to the new casinos and the expansion of gaming in the region. The big question going into the New Year is whether or not every casino will make it through the transition.
4. Aug. 1, 2018
DraftKings Sportsbook was the first to launch its online sports betting platform that included a browser-based and mobile sports betting app.
It kept its plans close to the vest, making it a complete surprise when it went live. Not only that, but the online sportsbook did not have a retail sportsbook yet.
The rush to market paid off as it was the only mobile sports betting option for nearly a month. That time gave DraftKings a distinct advantage in the market, and it has since maintained its position as the overall revenue leader in the market.
It only took a couple of months for mobile sports betting apps to generate more revenue than retail sportsbooks.
In September, online sports betting brought in $12,567,785 in revenue compared to $11,393,253 for for physical sportsbooks. Two months later, in November, online sports betting more than doubled the revenue from casino sportsbooks — $14,446,570 compared to $6,797,295.
It is an exciting time to be following NJ sports betting and NJ online gambling. We look forward every month to the 12th (or somewhere close to that date). It’s when the new revenue numbers are released and the fun of analyzing what it all means begins.
Speaking of the 12th …
5. The 12th of every month
All the NJ gambling news this year is helping 2018 end on an optimistic note.
There is nothing better to confirm or challenge that optimism than the official revenue reports from the DGE. Live entertainment is great, two new hotels and sports betting fever speak to a growing industry, but only the bottom line can confirm it.
There were several months where the NJ online casino industry posted record revenue figures. Additionally, there were equally as many months where casinos posted double-digit growth over the same periods from last year.
And while we don’t have historical sports betting numbers for the nascent industry, an 87 percent increase from October to November is definitely something to write about.
The bottom line is we can celebrate the launch of a mobile sports betting app and speculate how a new retail sportsbook will impact the NJ sports betting scene. But it isn’t until the 12th that we can see the actual impact.
The numbers don’t lie. That is why every month on the 12th all hands are on deck to crunch the numbers, analyze the data, and find the trends.
It’s also why we are celebrating every 12th for 2018.
Looking ahead to 2019
We know there will be at least one more casino sportsbook launching early this year at Hard Rock AC. And Freehold Raceway is working out the details of its potential launch. Additionally, several online sportsbooks are likely to come online.
Beyond that, AC casinos will be fighting for their place on the revenue leaderboard as the two new casinos settle in. Online casinos, on the other hand, will likely set a few more records.
Furthermore, there will be 12 more 12th’s to help us tell the story of the NJ gambling market. There is surely an exciting story waiting to be told this year.