Atlantic City Casino Revenue Down Because Of Blizzard, But NJ Gambling Sites Hit New Record

It was the best of times and the worst of times for Atlantic City in January. Land-based casinos had a brutal month, but online casinos hit a new high.

It was the best of times and the worst of times for Atlantic City in January.

New AC casino revenue figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement painted two very different pictures. While land-based casino revenue dropped in AC for the month, NJ gambling sites hit a new high. A blizzard at the start of the month appears to be responsible for the former and might have led to new heights in the latter.

Atlantic City revenue, at a glance

The blizzard took a bite out of revenue in AC for the month. Total gross gaming revenue clocked in at $184.3 million, down from $204.7 million, a 10 percent drop.

For the land-based industry, the numbers were even worse. The $162.4 million in revenue was down from $185.9 million in January of last year. That’s a decrease of more than 12 percent, year over year.

More from the Press of AC in talking with Jim Plousis, chairman of the state Casino Control Commission:

“What a difference a blizzard makes,” Plousis said. “When people are stuck in their homes by more than a foot of snow, and temperatures are dipping into single digits, they don’t come to Atlantic City.”

No game type was immune: Both slots (-$14 million) and table games (-$9.4 million) saw dropoffs with less traffic in town.

Full numbers here.

Winners and losers in AC casinos

Well, no one was really a winner; some land-based casinos just lost less.

  • Tropicana experienced the smallest drop percentage-wise year-over-year, pulling in $22.9 million, a six percent fall-off from last January ($24.3 million).
  • Resorts saw a similar drop, from $11.6 million to $12.4 million.
  • Caesars had the worst month, dropping 23 percent YoY ($21.8 million, down from $28.2 million)
  • Borgata was in the middle of the pack in how much revenue it shed from last year (11 percent). But that translated into nearly $7 million less YoY ($53.6 million, down from $60.5 million) for the AC revenue leader.
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Golden Nugget is our favorite NJ online casino, and for good reason. It has more than 500 casino games (the most in New Jersey) and offers live dealer games. It also has great deposit options and an easy-to-use online and mobile interface.

New record for NJ gambling sites

While it was a bad start for the year in AC, it appears that NJ online gambling is going nowhere but up.

On the heels of a year where revenue for online casinos almost hit $250 million, iGaming accounted for nearly $22 million in January. That’s up more than 20 percent from January of last year when iGaming accounted for $18.8 million in revenue.

That’s a new monthly high in the state since online casinos first launched in 2013. It’s just the fourth time in the industry’s history that revenue has eclipsed $21 million.

Golden Nugget, meanwhile, continued to dominate the competition on the online side, with $7.3 million in revenue. That’s the first time any operator has topped $7 million in a single month. It accounts for about one-third of all online gambling revenue in the state.

Borgata was a distant second, nearly $4 million behind.

The NJ online poker segment continued to disappoint, accounting for only about $2 million in a vertical that isn’t growing.

A Pair Of New NJ Gambling Sites On The Way: Ocean Resort, Hard Rock AC

Atlantic City’s newest casinos, Ocean Resort and Hard Rock AC, apply for NJ online gambling licenses ahead of their physical casino launches.

If you thought Atlantic City was done creating new New Jersey gambling sites, you were sadly mistaken.

Two new NJ online casinos

The two land-based casinos that are set to launch this spring or summer — Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock AC — are getting into the online gambling business, too.

The companies behind the two resorts have applied for online gambling licenses. Given they are both likely to get their land-based gaming licenses, getting the online licenses next to those should be a formality.

For those getting up to speed: Ocean Resort is the former Revel, while Hard Rock is the former Trump Taj Mahal.

What will the new NJ online gambling sites look like?

For one of the casinos, we know a lot. For the other, not so much.

Ocean Resort already partnered with online supplier GAN. That’s the company that powers the Betfair online casino that’s already operating in New Jersey. So you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect by heading over there.

For Hard Rock AC’s parent company — Hard Rock International — this is the first foray into regulated online gambling. Hard Rock has stuck to the land-based gaming industry for now. But its entry into the New Jersey market made it almost a necessity to offer online casino as well.

As such, we still don’t know who will power Hard Rock’s online casino. It could be someone already in the market, or maybe a platform provider we haven’t seen yet.

Will either casino have online poker? Right now, the answer is probably not.

But if the owners of Hard Rock AC want to get into iPoker in other states down the road, a launch in NJ would make sense.

Timeline for launch?

That one is up in the air right now, too.

While it seems safe to assume that both will get licenses, regulators probably won’t rush it. New Jersey has created the gold standard for iGaming regulation in the United States, so the Department of Gaming Enforcement is sure to make sure every “t” is crossed in vetting the two companies that will be offering online casinos.

Sometime this year seems like a safe bet, but whether it’s before or after the launch of the physical resorts and casinos is up in the air.

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Will these be among the best NJ online casinos?

It will be a steep climb for the two casinos to match the performance of the many websites that are already in the market and have been for years. Golden Nugget, for example, has a sizable lead over the rest of the established market, to the tune of nearly $2 million more in revenue each month.

But it’s certainly possible these new offerings could quickly reach the upper echelon of the best NJ online casinos in terms of quality.

As Hard Rock’s first entry into iGaming, it will want to get it right. It could have opportunities for legal online casinos in other states down the road.

But the bottom line is we’ll have to wait and see what these new online casinos will look like and how they’ll perform. But if you’re an online gambler, new choices are on the way.

What’s Next For Atlantic City And Glenn Straub? Who Knows

The biggest piece of property that Glenn Straub owned in Atlantic City — the former Revel/TEN — is no longer his. But he still owns property in town.

Is the saga of real estate developer Glenn Straub over in New Jersey? Far from it.

The latest on Straub in AC

The biggest piece of property that Straub owned in Atlantic City — the former Revel/TEN — is no longer his.

But he’s not done with AC quite yet, as he still owns 60 smaller properties in town.

“Even after the sale, Polo North is still the largest non-casino property owner on the Boardwalk,” Straub told the Press of AC. “We will move forward and be a spark for catalyzing positive economic movement in Atlantic City.”

 So given Straub’s often contentious relationship with AC and government officials, what’s next for Straub in New Jersey?

Straub often has big plans

Straub won’t have anything to do with what will now be called Ocean Resort Casino, since it was sold to a Colorado developer earlier this month. But when he did, he used to promise lots of big things for the former Revel, a gleaming property built for more than $2 billion.

A short list of things Straub said he would bring to Revel included:

  • An equestrian center
  • A ropes course
  • An academic institution for geniuses
  • A water park
  • A medical tourism facility
  • A think tank

Of course, none of those things came even close to fruition. Straub, during his time in possession of Revel, was very good at talking big and doing very little of substance. (That included several promises of opening the property that came and went with no action.)

He also insisted that Revel would have a casino, even though he refused to apply for a gaming license.

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Straub might do absolutely nothing

Straub’s plan could very well be to wait for AC to continue to bounce back, which it has been doing for a year-plus, and do nothing with his current real estate holdings.

That would be the same formula he used with Revel, which he sold for much more than he bought it.

If he can do nothing with his AC properties and make money from them, that would seem far more likely than him actually putting money and time into them.

But this much is clear: It’s not the last we’ve heard of Straub in New Jersey.

What We Know So Far About Ocean Resort Casino, AKA The Reopening Of Former Revel AC

The former Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City — aka TEN AC — is officially sold and will reopen this year under a new name: Ocean Casino Resort.

The former Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City — aka TEN AC for a brief time — is officially sold and will reopen this year under a new name: Ocean Resort Casino.

Here’s what we know so far about the old/new resort coming to AC.

Here comes Ocean Resort Casino, the former Revel

Most of what we know about the former Revel — now Ocean Resort — comes from a press release from the purchasing company. The former owner — Glenn Straub — did finally confirm that the sale was happening, despite months of denying it.

The purchasing company — AC Ocean Walk — bought the shuttered resort for $200 million. Straub bought the company out of bankruptcy for less than half that in 2015. The casino had been open only briefly before that after being built for a price tag of more than $2 billion. The resort plans to employ more than 2,500 people.

“We are incredibly excited that we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire this tremendous property at a time when Atlantic City is seeing great economic strides. Now the city has a number of exciting new projects with our property and the Hard Rock, as well as Stockton University’s new campus and the expansion of the medical center,” said Bruce Deifik, chairman of AC Ocean Walk, told the Press of Atlantic City.

When will Ocean Resort open?

The company said it plans to reopen the resort in “summer 2018.” 

That’s obviously a large swath of time. Earlier reports had a possible opening in May, but that’s an aggressive timeline based on how much the new owners are planning to do to get the resort up and running. Investor documents earlier showed plans for $175 million dedicated to changes and improvements.

While May is possible, June or July might be more likely. There’s definitely going to be a race between Ocean Resort and Hard Rock — which is renovating the former Trump Taj Mahal — to be the first to reopen.

Will you be able to gamble at Ocean Resort?

Seeing as “casino” is in its name, that seems to be a given. When Straub was trying to reopen Revel, it was not clear gambling would take place.

But Ocean Resort will have 138,000 square feet of gaming space, according to new ownership. There will be 100 table games and 2,200 slot machines.

There are also plans already afoot for opening a sportsbook, as well, which would happen if New Jersey wins its US Supreme Court case to have legal sports betting.

So, yes, you’re definitely going to be able to gamble there.

Will Ocean Resort have online gambling?

There’s no word on whether Ocean Resort will join the NJ online gambling industry. But it seems like a safe bet eventually.

Even though it would be a late entrant to the market — online gambling has been around since 2013 in the state — there’s no reason why the new casino couldn’t get involved now. The market has continued to expand in recent years, and new brands and approaches to the online casino and poker space have succeeded.

It’s possible the online casino market is nearing saturation, but Ocean Resort could certainly get a piece of the pie. It’s even possible an online casino could come before the physical casino, based on how quickly the new owners appear to be moving.

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What else will Ocean Resort have?

Here are some of the other numbers on Ocean Resort:

  • 1,399 rooms
  • 165,000 square feet in meeting and convention space
  • 5,700-seat concert hall with space for potential future expansion
  • 7,700 parking spaces

Also from the owner:

“It is our mission and vision to fully serve the customer base of Atlantic City. In that regard, we are working to bring back some of the restaurants that were successful at the property and we have worked diligently to create some specialized new venues including a top Asian noodle bar and a high end players club. Our investment in this property will make certain there is something for everyone at the Ocean,” Deifik said.

Image credit: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

The Latest Sign That Revel/TEN In Atlantic City Is Actually Sold

There’s now more evidence that owner Glenn Straub has sold his interest in the shuttered casino resort — the former Revel/TEN — in Atlantic City.

We got some more tea leaves to read in the ongoing saga of Atlantic City’s Revel/TEN.

There’s now more evidence that owner Glenn Straub has sold his interest in the shuttered casino resort, although that evidence still falls short of full confirmation.

What we know about Revel/TEN

At the tail-end of 2017, we started seeing rumblings that the former Revel had been sold. If the sale is actually happening, it’s one of the more cloak-and-dagger transactions in the history of Atlantic City.

No one seems to be publicly admitting it or talking about it, and Straub has continued to insist he hasn’t sold the property.

But the apparent buyer of Revel/TEN — AC Ocean Walk LLC — appears to have take even more steps. Here’s the latest from the blog Route 40:

[Denver-based developer Bruce] Deifik registered a new company as a “casino hotel resort” in New Jersey and, through that new company, agreed to a mortgage on the former Revel property with the investment bank JPMorgan Chase.

Route 40 learned that the new business is called ACOWRE LLC by finding its business registration (here). That all comes as Moody’s assigned a credit rating to Ocean Walk last month.

So, is Revel/TEN really reopening?

The Moody’s report referenced above talks about a May 2018 reopening for the property.

Of course, since we don’t even have an official timeline for the sale of Revel/TEN — and it’s now January — May seems like an aggressive timeline. The Moody’s report suggests that the “new owners will invest another $175 million” in the property. That’s a lot of renovation and changes to Revel/TEN to make happen in a few short months.

The casino resort’s website says it is scheduled to open in 2018. However, the site also said that it would open in 2017 throughout last year.

So despite the latest movement, it’s not at all clear how quickly Revel/TEN will be open for business once again.\

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Optimism is up in AC

Even though we still don’t really know what’s going to happen with Revel/TEN, there are lots of reasons for AC to be optimistic.

Hard Rock AC (the former Trump Taj Mahal) will almost certainly open its doors this summer. That will mean more jobs for a town trying to shake free of the state takeover, and more people in AC during the busy summer months. The Stockton University Gateway project is also slated to wrap up this year.

Through it all, the status of Revel/TEN remains one of the stories to watch in NJ gambling in 2018.

Image credit: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Four Stories To Watch In New Jersey Gambling In The New Year

It was an interesting year for the gaming industry in New Jersey, especially for NJ gambling sites. But there could be even more in store for 2018.

It was an interesting year for the gaming industry in New Jersey. But there could be even more in store for 2018.

Here’s a look at the big stories to watch in the new year.

Will there be NJ sports betting this year?

The biggest gaming story in the state remains about one issue: sports betting.

The US Supreme Court heard New Jersey’s appeal in its efforts to legalize sports gambling at the start of December. The most likely outcome appears to be a victory for the state of New Jersey in some fashion.

It’s not a lock that New Jersey will win, of course. But if it does, you might be able to bet on NFL games next season.

A decision is expected sometime in the first half of 2018. It could come as soon as March, or as late as June. If that decision comes down in favor of NJ, then casinos in Atlantic City and the state’s two racetracks will be able to offer sports wagering soon after.

Monmouth Park has said it could be ready as soon as two weeks after a verdict. Borgata, owned by MGM Resorts International, is also prepping for a world with legal sports betting. It’s not clear how quickly everyone else would move into the space, but nearly everyone who can will.

And sports betting might head online soon, as well. What a brave new world.

Will NJ gambling sites continue to grow?

It was a big year for NJ gambling sites, as the industry grew dramatically year over year. In 2017, months where the entire industry generates more than $20 million were the norm. For the year, revenue is up about 30 percent over 2016.

One operator stood out in particular. Golden Nugget — one of the best NJ online casinos — is routinely hauling in $2 million a month more than its closest competitors.

There is certainly some question of whether this trend could possibly continue in 2018. There’s reason to believe there will be a bit of a plateau in the new year, or at least scaled-back growth.

But who knows: The online casino industry in the state has surprised us before. Could more surprises be in store?

When will interstate player pooling for online poker begin?

New Jersey made some news in 2017 when it announced it was entering an interstate agreement to share online poker player pools with Nevada and Delaware.

That would be a boon to the NJ online poker market, which has struggled relative to online casinos’ success.

Details about when player pooling would commence have been scarce so far, and the NJ Department of Gaming Enforcement has been mum on a timeline.

Still, it seems like New Jersey residents will be playing against players in other states sometime in 2018. The “when” is just an open question.

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Do both Hard Rock and TEN reopen?

There could be two new casinos in AC in 2018. Well, not really “new,” as both existed previously.

But Hard Rock AC — formerly the Trump Taj Mahal — and TEN AC — aka Revel — both seem like favorites to reopen their doors sometime in 2018. Which one will reopen first is up for some debate.

While Hard Rock has taken many concrete steps towards renovating the Taj under its new name, the owner of Revel/TEN has been denying he actually sold it.

The fate of these two casinos — and their affect on AC — will be a major story for New Jersey.