Atlantic City Casinos Could Get Some Tax Relief, But Will It Be Enough?

The New Jersey General Assembly passed a bill that would provide temporary tax relief for Atlantic City Casinos, but how bad is it really in AC?

In light of the negative fiscal impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Atlantic City casinos, the New Jersey Legislature voted in favor of providing temporary relief to the industry.

In a vote on Thursday, the General Assembly moved the bill (S2400/A4032) to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for his signature. The state Senate passed the bill back in June.

The ultimate goal of the legislation is to help casinos get back on their feet as well as resume hiring.

The bill allows for a reduction in taxes paid on gross gaming revenue. It also includes a monthly deduction against gross gaming revenue equal to the bonus and promo credits used by the casino’s customers.

According to the legislation, the pandemic “has clearly not just reversed the consistent track of economic improvement that the Atlantic City casino industry had worked very hard to achieve over the last several years, but also has set back the economy of an entire region that is greatly dependent on the jobs, tourism spending and purchases that the Atlantic City casinos generate.”

How bad is it at Atlantic City casinos?

2020 has been a frustrating year for many in the entertainment and hospitality industries, especially in Atlantic City.

When the coronavirus pandemic was at its height in New Jersey, Murphy shut down the casinos. Until the scaled-back reopening in July, Atlantic City’s casinos had to rely on just online gambling to bring in any sort of revenue.

Last month was the first full month that all nine Atlantic City casinos were open since mid-March.

All the casinos reopened at reduced capacity with a reduced number of games and machines for customers to play on as well as a ban on indoor dining.

Indoor dining returned with similar restrictions in September.

All of these various factors played a role in a considerable drop in revenue compared to August 2019.

A drop in casino win across the board

According to a press release from the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the total gaming revenue posted in August was $326.3 million. Last year, $352.8 million was earned, a 7.5% decrease.

On its own, that decrease isn’t much. And the reason for that lies in the strength of NJ online gambling sites.

In August, $87.8 million in NJ online casino revenue was brought in compared to $41.1 million last year, an increase of 113.6%.

There was also a year-to-year increase in NJ sports betting revenue as $39.5 million for the month, up from last year’s amount of $25,210,342. The majority of that revenue was also online.

Land-based casino win, however, is another story. Eight casinos saw year-over-year decreases between 14% and 55% in August.

The only outlier was Ocean Casino Resort, which grew by only 1.4% year-over-year.

CasinoTable & OtherSlot MachinesAug 2020 TotalAug 2019 Total% Change
Bally's$ 3,915,944
$ 11,540,973$ 15,456,917$18,756,628-17.60%
Borgata$ 11,671,996$ 28,821,017$ 40,493,013$71,925,945-43.70%
Caesars$ 6,444,970$ 14,766,485$ 21,211,455$30,920,635-31.40%
Golden Nugget$ 1,515,939$ 7,747,523$ 9,263,462$20,684,016-55.20%
Hard Rock$ 12,586,066$ 20,287,550$ 32,873,616$38,456,242-14.50%
Harrah's$ 5,278,263$ 16,234,162$ 21,512,425$31,125,574-30.90%
Ocean Casino$ 6,340,123$ 18,034,934$ 24,375,057$24,050,2961.40%
Resorts$ 3,182,446$ 10,718,845 $ 13,901,291$18,889,794-26.40%
Tropicana$ 4,004,543$ 15,961,030$ 19,965,573$31,671,211-37%
Total$ 54,940,290$ 144,112,519$ 199,052,809 $ 286,480,341-30.50%

Note: Atlantic City poker rooms were open in August 2019, but remain closed as of September 2020. The total gaming revenue in August 2019 includes poker.

AC casinos struggle to maintain growth

The industry’s total gaming revenue last month was only $1.618 billion compared to last year’s $2.278 billion, a 29% decrease.

These numbers continue the downward revenue trend that Atlantic City’s casinos are on this year. The first-quarter numbers were down 65% compared to the previous year. That included the first two weeks of the casino shutdown.

The second-quarter numbers were much worse as there was a $112 million, or 85%, decrease compared to last year. This was the quarter that was completed affected by the shutdown.

The back-to-back quarterly losses come on the heels of a period where Atlantic City casinos saw a 21-month streak of growth come to an end.

Casinos and hiring during a pandemic

While AC’s casinos are up and running at a limited capacity now, the impact of the months-long shutdown will be felt into 2021. That’s something that is not lost on Assemblymen John Armato (D-Atlantic) and Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic).

“We all know that the casino industry is vital to the success of the local finances and to the over 30,000 individuals it employs,” Mazzeo said in a Press of Atlantic City article.

“Atlantic City will be feeling the downturn in the economy like the rest of the state and country. Ensuring that we do not intentionally worsen that or place any extra burden on the taxpayers is our top priority,” Armato added.

That being said, the new bill does require something of casinos in return for tax relief. Casinos in Atlantic City must make a “good faith effort” to hire as many former and new employees as possible.

In the last few months, casino management had to get creative in order to making the most of the restricted opening in July. Hard Rock Atlantic City, for example, moved their VIP high-roller lounge from indoors to an outdoor ocean view tent.

“We’ve been able to bring back about 60% of our employee base, so not everyone,” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock AC.

“We can’t fill our hotels because we can’t put as many people in our hotel elevators, nor do we have enough seating outside to supplement all those guests if we did fill our hotel rooms.”

The local effect of an Atlantic City casino downturn

The fiscal impact that the city itself will experience due to the casino shut down is already being felt by the city and its businesses. But it will also be felt in next year’s municipal budget.

According to the PILOT bill, which was enacted in 2016, Atlantic City’s nine casinos pay a portion of their annual earnings to the city instead of taxes for 10 years.

The casinos paid the city $150 million last year, a number that will not be achieved this year due to the pandemic, according to the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

“DCA projects that 2020 gross gaming revenues will be lower, which will result in lower PILOT payments to the City of Atlantic City in 2021,” Lisa Ryan, a DCA spokesperson, told the Press of Atlantic City.

Despite the expected lower PILOT payment for 2020, the DCA still feels that there will not be any real impacts to Atlantic City’s budget for next year.

However, Michael Busler, a public policy analyst and finance professor at Stockton University, has a less-than-optimistic view.

“I think (the casinos) are going to have a tough time even meeting the amount that they have to pay (for 2021),” Busler said.

DraftKings 100-1 Odds Boost Returns For Another Weekend Of NFL Action

For any NFL game on Sunday and Monday, you can win $100 just by betting $1 on the moneyline of the winning team thanks to DraftKings 100-1 odds boost.

DraftKings Sportsbook fans, rejoice. The 100-1 odds boost is back for another NFL weekend.

Despite having both no preseason and no fans in the stands thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 NFL season kicked off last week. NJ sportsbooks like DraftKings were quick to celebrate with odds boosts and promos.

One of the biggest and most tempting odds boosts was the 100-1 odds boost. Well, this particular odds boost was so popular that DraftKings decided to bring it back for NFL Week 2, which is good news for players in New Jersey.

The DraftKings 100-1 odds boost promo is only for new DraftKings Sportsbook players and is only playable on the Sunday and Monday NFL Week 2 games.

That’s right. Any NFL game on Sunday and Monday is once again up for grabs for this odds boost.

DraftKings 100-1 odds boost

How to get the 100-1 odds boost at DraftKings

If you are signing up for DraftKings and want to use the 100-1 odds boost on a Week 2 game, there are a couple of steps to follow but it’s simple to do.

First, you have to deposit a minimum of $5 into your newly created DraftKings Sportsbook account. After making your initial deposit, head over to the Promos/Rewards page, and pick the game that you’d like to use the odds boost for by clicking the “Boost This Game.”

Be careful though because once you make your pick, you can’t go back and change it.

After picking the game that you’d like to boost, you will be issued a single-use odds boost to choose for +10000 (100-1) odds for a team to win that game.

From there, you can apply your boost to any Sunday or Monday (Sept 20-21) football game by adding that team’s moneyline to the bet slip and applying the boost.

The maximum amount that can be bet on this odds boost is $1, which would pay out $100 and can’t be used as part of any live bets, parlays, cash-out bets, free bets, and voided bets.

Note that the Thursday Night Football game is excluded, but there are other odds boosts available for the Bengals-Browns game.

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Bet $1, win $100… but on which game?

Ideally, you should use this odds boost in one of these two situations: either on a favorite that you are 1,000% certain on winning or on a slight underdog that has a spread that can be easily covered.

Based on DraftKings’ lines, there are four potential options that would be good plays for the 100-1 odds boost.

Unfortunately, for DraftKings players in the Garden State, none of the three local teams are one of those four plays. In fact, two of the three are on the opposite end.

The New York Jets are hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, and the Niners are favored by a touchdown. As a fan of Gang Green, it pains me to say this but based off of Week 1 and Le’Veon Bell now on injured reserve, I see the Niners covering the seven points with ease.

The Philadelphia Eagles are only one-point underdogs to the Los Angeles Rams, making this a borderline toss-up. But I feel the Rams are a better team than the Eagles, especially after Philly’s collapse against Washington.

Other good bets for NFL Week 2

Week 1 saw the Baltimore Ravens completely run through the Cleveland Browns. In NFL Week 2, the Ravens are favored by a touchdown over the Houston Texans.

While Houston is a good team, they fell apart in their loss to the defending Super Bowl champs Kansas City. The Texans couldn’t keep up against a high-powered offense. I expect another double-digit win for the Ravens on Sunday.

The final potential play is the Sunday night game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. The Pats are four-point underdogs at DraftKings against the Seahawks. But the team showed no real slowing down, even with the loss of Tom Brady and the addition of Cam Newton.

Your DraftKings 100-1 odds boost is a good bet for this game, too.

BetMGM’s Casino Super Series Features $1.5 Million In Online Prizes

The Casino Super Series features BetMGM, Borgata and PartyCasino apps in a tournament that’s billed as the biggest online networked prize pool ever.

Players on three NJ online casinos now have something new to try to win: the Casino Super Series.

BetMGM’s Casino Super Series takes place now through Sept. 27 and will feature different games over the seven-week tournament, including slot, table and live dealer table games.

More than $1.5 million in prizes will be given out during the Casino Super Series. In a press release, BetMGM calls it New Jersey’s biggest online networked prize pool ever.

The three sites are BetMGM Casino, Borgata online casino and PartyCasino NJ.

“We’re excited to bring these three well-known gaming brands together to offer the biggest online gaming tournament New Jersey has ever seen,” said Matthew Sunderland, vice president of gaming for BetMGM.

“There really is something for every type of casino player in the Casino Super Series.”

How to play BetMGM’s Casino Super Series

The seven-week tournament will feature multiple leaderboards. A $500,000 overall leaderboard will keep tabs on the entire series along with awarding the $250,000 championship prize.

Players who opt into the tournament move up the leaderboard by playing the featured games of the week. Contestants earn a leaderboard point for every dollar wagered.

At the end of the week, the top players will earn a share of the $250,000 bonus cash and 50,000 free spins on the Starburst slot game.

All of the Casino Super Series prizes will be given out in unrestricted bonus cash. That means it comes with no wagering requirement.

There will also be $125,000 leaderboards each week of the tournament, which will award the top player of the week $50,000.

Casino Super Series players will have access to 250,000 free spins and a weekly “Slot in the Spotlight” highlighting featured games from the top online casino game makers in the country.

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Week 1 games feature jackpot slots

Week one of the series will feature the following online slot games:

  • Loot ‘En Khamun
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • MGM Grand Millions
  • Luck O’ The Jackpot
  • Book of Myths
  • Melon Madness Deluxe

The potential is there for players to win big on one of these games this week.

A New Jersey resident recently won $3.2 million on a single $2 spin on the Luck O’ The Jackpot progressive slot game. It was an NJ online casino record.

Be sure to win a Lucky Spot

Each week will also feature 20 Lucky Spot winners. And yes, if you’re lucky, there’s bonus cash here, too — $1,000 bonus cash, to be exact.

The Lucky Spots prizes will be awarded to players who end the week in the following spots on the Week One leaderboard: 7, 17, 27, 37, 47, 57, 67, 77, 87, 97, 107, 177, 277, 377, 477, 577, 677, 777, 877, and 977.

Below is a payout breakdown for Week 1 of the Casino Super Series:

RankBonus Cash
1$100,000
2$25,000
3$15,000
4$10,000
5$6,000
6$5,000
7$4,000
8$3,000
9$2,000
10$950
11-15$750
16-20$500
21-25$400
26-30$300
31-40$250
41-50$200
51-100$160
101-150$140
151-200$120
201-250$100
251-300$70
301-350$50
351-400$40
401-500$30
501-600$24
601-700$20
701-800$14
801-1000$10

Each week has a new payout breakdown with new games to play. To opt in and join the tournament, log in to BetMGM Casino or create an account at any of the three sites.

Let the games begin.

How One NJ Woman Turned A $2 Online Bet Into $3.2 Million At BetMGM

A record progressive jackpot was hit in New Jersey at BetMGM online casino to the tune of $3.2 million. The slot in question? Luck O’ The Jackpot.

A New Jersey resident recently had Lady Luck on her side. A single $2 bet netted her more than $3 million and a place in the history books.

Sherri W. was playing BetMGM online casino’s Luck O’ The Jackpot progressive slot when she won $3,266,476.20, a new record for the state of New Jersey.

The previous record was $1.52 million, which was won in 2015 on Betfair’s Let It Ride.

“I’m so happy and still in shock. I called my husband first thing, and he didn’t think it was real. I had only been playing on BetMGM Casino for three days before hitting the jackpot,” Sherri said in a press release.

“I had some bad experiences on other NJ casino apps and found BetMGM and just really liked the games so kept playing. We’re just so happy, and I can’t wait to get back on there to play some more.”

Online jackpot win a record for NJ

BetMGM and ROAR Digital shared Sherri’s enthusiasm.

“It’s extremely exciting to see our casino progressive jackpot prize being won,” said Matthew Sunderland, VP of gaming at ROAR Digital.

“We’re proud to bring such monumental wins to players through our in-house networked progressive jackpot games in New Jersey and hope to continue raising the bar with even bigger jackpots in the future.”

The progressive jackpot Sherri won could also have been won on a few other BetMGM progressive slot games. The slots are only available in New Jersey and are:

  • Melon Madness
  • Biker Pigs
  • Going Nuts
  • Loot’EnKhamun
  • MGM Grand Millions

Sherri is actually the second online casino player from the Garden State to become a millionaire this year playing slots.

Back in May, Scotty W. won $1 million on a single spin on Golden Nugget’s Pillars of Asgard online slot game, the biggest single-spin win since New Jersey introduced online gambling in 2013.

Luck O’ The Jackpot has five jackpots in one

The key factor in the Luck O’ The Jackpot online slot is the jackpot itself. In this case, the game refers to it as The Big One.

The Big One jackpot actually consists of five jackpots at different levels:

  • Blitz Cash Jackpot
  • Quick Cash Jackpot
  • Super Cash Jackpot
  • Mega Cash Jackpot
  • Colossal Cash Jackpot

Now, all five jackpots grow progressively as the game is played. For each spin, BetMGM adds a small credit to each. The jackpot is triggered randomly, and all five levels can be hit no matter the winning combination.

It just so happened that Sherri’s $2 bet eventually hit The Big One to the tune of $3.2 million. That’s Lady Luck for you.

DraftKings Kicks Off NFL Betting With Season-Long Pick’em National Championship

The Pro Football Pick’em National Championship at DraftKings Sportsbook is underway. And this NFL pick’em contest features a grand prize of $1 million.

Are you ready for some football, New Jersey? Then you are in luck. DraftKings launched a new NFL pick’em contest featuring a $1 million grand prize.

And NJ sports betting fans will be getting first dibs on the newest, biggest contest being offered.

What is the DraftKings NFL Pick’em contest?

The Pro Football Pick’em National Championship is a season-long contest in which players pick five games against the spread each week.

The contest will last from Week 1 all the way through Week 16. Players choose games during 14 of those weeks, with two bye weeks of their choice.

All picks will have to be made by 10 a.m. EST on the Sunday of that particular week.

If a player gets all five of their picks right in a given week, they will get a free $100 bet on DraftKings Sportsbook.

The contest costs $1,500 to enter, with three total entries allowed.

At the time of this writing, New Jersey was the only state taking part. But DraftKings hopes to add more states before the season begins.

Cash prizes for 50 winners

The top 50 players at the end of the season will all get a cash prize, with the winner getting that coveted $1 million.

The rest of the payouts are as follows:

RankPrize
2nd Place
$250,000
3rd Place$125,000
4th Place$100,000
5th Place$75,000
6th Place$60,000
7th Place$50,000
8th Place$40,000
9th Place$30,000
10th Place$20,000
11th-15th Place$15,000
16th-20th Place$10,000
21st-25th Place$7,500
26th-35th Place$5,000
36th-50th Place$2,500

What if the 2020 NFL season is delayed or canceled?

Like the other US pro sports leagues, the NFL’s 2020 schedule has been affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic. For instance, the NFL draft was to take place back in April in Las Vegas but was switched to a virtual draft instead.

As the NFL betting season draws near to football’s official start in September, the country is still dealing with the pandemic. This makes it a possibility that the regular season could be affected as well.

In that case, DraftKings does have a contingency plan in case of any delays or changes to the season. Here’s the gist:

  • If the season starts after Sept. 10, DraftKings will simply shift the contest’s start to coincide with the new start of the season.
  • If the season gets canceled after Week 12, DraftKings will still honor payouts for all of the winners. If the season is canceled before Week 12, DraftKings will refund players.
  • If the season is canceled between Weeks 12 and 16, the winners will be determined based on the player’s percentage of correct picks rather than total correct picks. This rule is in place because some players will have used one or both of their bye weeks by then.

How to enter the DraftKings Pro Football Pick’em National Championship

If you are looking to enter the Pro Football Pick’em National Championship, log in to DraftKings Sportsbook and click on the “Pools” tab.

If you are signing up for the first time, you will need to register and deposit funds.

If not, you simply have to opt into the contest, pay the entry fee and wait ever so patiently for the NFL season to kick off.

Caesars-Eldorado Merger Means Big Changes Ahead For Atlantic City

With the Caesars-Eldorado merger officially finalized, Atlantic City casinos will once again experience changes as the new company takes control.

After months of planning and regulatory discussions, Eldorado Resorts officially acquired Caesars Entertainment on Monday.

The merger creates the biggest casino and resort company in the US. It also puts a large chunk of Atlantic City’s casinos under one umbrella.

The merger needed to overcome one final regulatory hurdle: the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. After three days of testimony, the CCC unanimously approved the Caesars-Eldorado merger on July 17.

“We are pleased to have completed this transformative merger, thus making us the premier leader in gaming and hospitality. We look forward to executing on the numerous opportunities ahead to create value for all stakeholders,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, in a press release announcing the merger.

Caesars-Eldorado merger and Atlantic City

The new Caesars Entertainment will operate four of AC’s nine casinos — Harrah’s, Caesars, Tropicana and Bally’s. The latter was sold in April to Twin River Holdings, but the sale agreement is expected to close at the end of 2020.

The sale was a preemptive move by Caesars to offload one of its Atlantic City properties prior to the merger being approved.

Last week, during the three days of hearings, the Division of Gaming Enforcement and CCC raised multiple concerns about the lack of improvements made to the Caesars properties in Atlantic City.

To this end, the CCC added some mandatory conditions as part of the merger’s approval.

One requirement included putting improvements in place at each of the three casinos in AC over the next three years. Caesars agreed. As such, a $400 million capital expenditures trust account will be created.

Additionally, if the Bally’s property isn’t sold within a year, an extra $125 million will be added to that account.

The details of the requirements go even further than that. For instance, at least $150 million must be spent on improvements at Caesars Atlantic City over the next three years.

Investing and believing in AC

Eldorado and the new Caesars are also prohibited from closing any of the Caesars properties for five years after the merger is completed.

“We wouldn’t be doing this transaction if we weren’t believers in Atlantic City, because it’s so important to Caesars as it sits today,” said Reeg to the commission last week.

“We understand that we acquire the positives and negatives of Caesars, and we know that Atlantic City and New Jersey have had some difficulties with a lack of investment from Caesars, chiefly in the past, and we understand why the conditions are there.”

Representatives from Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort filed petitions with the CCC about the proposed merger’s impact on their businesses, but they were denied.

A fresh start for Caesars-Eldorado merger

A merger of such magnitude impacts not only casino employees but visitors and the city as well.

With Eldorado’s purchase of Caesars, it feels like a fresh start for all involved. The new Caesars establishes itself as a major player in Atlantic City in 2020 and beyond.

From state and local officials’ perspective, Caesars will be under the ownership of a group that seems to have the best interests in mind for its properties and Atlantic City.

And while the concerns were duly noted, Caesars will not only bring added customer benefits from the merger but also a renewed focus on offering guests the best experience.

“We’re going to really lean on both the Caesars database and the Eldorado database, and get the best customers we can to come to Atlantic City,” Brent Yunker, Caesars Entertainment’s CFO, said to The Press of Atlantic City.

“It’s obviously going to play out over a number of years because of this very unique scenario we’re in with COVID-19. But we’re going to try to do this as quickly as we possibly can, but also as safely as we can.”

Atlantic City has had an eventful year

Ultimately, the merger is the latest big change for Atlantic City in a year chock-full of ups and downs.

2020 started on a high note, but the momentum came to an abrupt stop in mid-March. That’s when all nine casinos shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy closed AC casinos for 100-plus days. Many casino employees were either furloughed or laid off as a result, with casinos depending strictly on the strength of NJ online gambling.

It wasn’t until late June that good news arrived. Caesars reopened its three casinos on July 3; Tropicana did so a day earlier.

The Caesars-Eldorado merger, however, was always on the back burner. The initial news of the acquisition reverberated throughout the gambling industry.

It is essentially what sparked the sale of Bally’s in April. And it will ultimately lead to improvements at some of Atlantic City’s oldest casinos.

Changes are afoot once again in Atlantic City.