Atlantic City Casino Revenue Takes A Slide In May, But Don’t Panic Yet

Atlantic City casino revenue was down 5% in May compared to 2017, which is not a concern just yet with NJ sports betting and two new casinos coming soon.

In sports betting, there is no greater disappointment than a bad beat.

Like taking the 23.5-point spread in a college basketball game, having that team lead by 26, and a player from the losing squad hitting a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer to essentially rip up your ticket.

For Atlantic City casinos, May was a bad beat in terms of revenue. Though it should not be too much cause for concern.

Casinos ‘unusually lucky’ in 2017

According to figures released last week by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, overall AC casino revenue in May reflected a 5.1 percent drop from 2017.

Revenue at brick-and-mortar casinos fell more than 7 percent to $193.4 million, a drop-off of nearly $15 million compared with May 2017.

“The May results were mixed,” DGE deputy chief of financial investigations Christopher Glaum told the Press of Atlantic City. “While slot machine win and internet win were up for the month, table game win was down due largely to a lower win percentage. Last May, the industry had an unusually high win percentage, at close to 20 percent, and this year was more normal, at around 16 percent.”

The Boardwalk’s seven casinos combined for $217.7 million last month, which was up from $214.4 million generated in April. To date, they have raked in just over $1 billion, which is 4.3 percent behind the pace at this time last year.

“Somebody was lucky in May, but it wasn’t the casinos,” James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, told the Associated Press. “Casino win was down last month largely because casinos were unusually lucky at the tables last year in May, and players kept more of their money this May.”

Downward trend opposite of online

Decreasing revenues abounded in Atlantic City this past month.

In terms of total gaming win, Borgata sat atop the market with $66 million. That total, however, is down 8 percent year over year.

On the other end of the spectrum is Caesars, which reported $22.2 million for a 24.3 percent slide from last May.

Interestingly, though, that downward trend is not prevalent everywhere.

NJ gambling sites in May enjoyed the second-best month in the industry’s history, as the combined $24.3 million was second only to the $25.6 million posted two months earlier.

Down month in Atlantic City should not be concerning

Yes, overall revenue is down. But by no means are casinos out. In fact, some experts believe a hike could be in store over the next few months.

There is some fear that the additions of Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Atlantic City — both of which are targeting June 28 openings — could oversaturate the market. After all, after five NJ casinos closed between 2014 and 2016, AC’s casinos have recorded increased revenues over the past two years.

But in an April interview, former Stockton University professor Anthony Marino said he expects the opposite to occur. Those casinos, he noted, could attract new visitors and lure former guests back to the Boardwalk.

“Both properties have super-sized casino floors and ample space to include celebrity chef restaurants, exciting entertainment venues, conference and business facilities, plus other amenities to attract non-gaming business,” Marino said.

Plousis echoed Marino’s optimism, also citing the legalization of NJ sports betting as a potential revenue boost for casinos with sportsbooks.

“I do anticipate that gaming revenue will increase this summer with the addition of new casinos, sports betting and a wealth of new attractions, amenities, and entertainment,” Plousis said. “With that also comes more tax revenue, more jobs and increased economic activity for the entire region.”

At Long Last, A New Era Of Legal Sports Betting Begins For New Jersey

Last week, Monmouth Park in Oceanport and Borgata in Atlantic City took the first legal sports bets in NJ. And with that, NJ sports betting at long last was live.

Delaware may have been the first state outside of Nevada to offer legalized sports betting. But New Jersey, it seemed, made us forget that fact.

A new era for the Garden State began last week after years of legal battles ultimately ended with the US Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) last month.

The first legalized NJ sports betting action took place at Monmouth Park racetrack and Borgata in Atlantic City. And there was much rejoicing.

Monmouth finally gets in on the action

Thursday was overdue for Monmouth Park.

Since being leased from New Jersey in 2012, the 72-year-old racetrack has sought alternative revenue streams just to stay afloat. The track was set to offer sports betting some six years ago until the sports leagues sued the state, shelving Monmouth’s plans to get a much-needed revenue boost.

Even after SCOTUS cleared the path for regulated sports betting, a delay in bill finalization — Gov. Phil Murphy taking his time in signing the legislation — prevented Monmouth from opening its $2.5 million William Hill sportsbook. This meant the park missed taking bets in time for Game 4 of the NBA Finals and the Belmont Stakes, among other events.

Last Monday, Murphy finally put pen to paper, and Monmouth’s long-awaited sports betting dreams came to fruition. Fittingly, as the state’s first legalized wagers, Murphy made two futures bets: Germany to win the World Cup and the New Jersey Devils to win next year’s Stanley Cup.

“This is a long time coming, so it’s very exciting,” said William Hill CEO Joe Asher. “To come here on the day it’s happening, and to see all the news trucks outside — you start to think of the path we traveled to get here. You see all the new employees working here. It just reinforces the jobs that have been created by the Supreme Court’s decision and the efforts of so many people for so long.”

So how good was NJ sports betting at Monmouth?

Statistics regarding sports betting revenue and handle were not released, but Monmouth Park president and CEO Dennis Drazin told the Asbury Park Press that the “numbers have been very strong.”

On-track handle for Saturday and Sunday was up 18 percent, and attendance spiked 21 percent. On Father’s Day alone, attendance jumped by more than 5,000 year over year and total handle was up nearly $750,000 from last year’s Father’s Day.

So just imagine what sports betting figures will look like, considering that lines at the William Hill kiosks were quite lengthy throughout the weekend.

Borgata and Atlantic City right behind

Thirty minutes after Monmouth opened sports betting, Atlantic City did the same. Borgata opened its renamed Race & Sports Book, while the casino moves forward in constructing a $7 million sportsbook lounge.

Hall of Fame basketball player Julius Erving was the casino’s special guest, laying down $5 for the Philadelphia Eagles to repeat as Super Bowl champions. NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney, a vocal proponent for sports betting, was right behind Erving, placing $200 on the Green Bay Packers to win the NFL title.

“This couldn’t be a better birthday present for Borgata and our team members today to bring on another form of entertainment,” Borgata president Marcus Glover, whose casino celebrates its 15th year this summer, told the Press of Atlantic City.

“(Sports betting) brings a sense of vibrancy and adds to the excitement that already exists inside the four walls of Borgata today. …Today, Borgata leads the way as New Jersey enters a new era of sports entertainment.”

After making his bet at Monmouth, Murphy made his way to Borgata, laying down two wagers: one on the New York Mets, the other on Martin Truex Jr. to win an upcoming NASCAR race.

“Obviously the specific revenue associated with sports betting is going to be significant and growing, but it’s going to have a knock-on impact,” Murphy said. “You can see, instead of going to Las Vegas for an NFL playoff weekend, you could see people posting up here in Atlantic City.”

Sports betting ready to take over NJ

Monmouth and Borgata proved to be the spark for a soon to be roaring fire in NJ sports betting.

A sportsbook is scheduled to open July 15 at Meadowlands Racetrack, which has partnered with Betfair US, while Resorts in Atlantic City could have a DraftKings-branded book opening in due time.

Late last week, it was reported that Caesars Entertainment was planning to open sportsbooks at each of its three Atlantic City properties — Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s — by mid-August.

Also in AC, Ocean Resort Casino, which is targeting a June 28 opening date, has teamed with William Hill for a casino-centric sportsbook.

Golden Nugget, meanwhile, is also expected to have a book soon, though the AC casino will not be able to offer NBA bets, as owner Tilman Fertitta also owns the Houston Rockets.

Clearly, New Jersey is ready to bask in the glow of legalized sports betting. Finally.

“There’s an old adage that you bet with your head not with your heart,” Murphy said. “For the past seven years, our heads and hearts were in alignment as we fought to overturn an unlawful and unfair federal law. We knew in our heads we were right, and we knew in our hearts that we’d win. And we have.”

NJ Online Gambling Revenue Marches To Another Stellar Month In May

New Jersey online casinos continue to climb, posting $24.3 million in revenue in May. At this rate, NJ gambling sites are set to hit $1 billion lifetime revenue by year’s end.

Heading into March, NJ online gambling had never seen revenues eclipsing $23 million. Clearly, that’s all in the past.

According to figures reported by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement this week, online casino and poker generated $24.3 million in May for the second-best month in the industry’s history.

It was also the third straight month revenue surpassed $23 million, and May’s total trails only the $25.6 million from March.

What happened in May at NJ gambling sites?

Another streak continues for online casino and poker revenue in the Garden State, as May marked the 15th straight month combined earnings exceeded $20 million.

The first full month of interstate poker helped boost online poker to $1.9 million in May. The liquidity sharing agreement among New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada launched May 1 and resulted in a 6 percent increase from April.

Still, there is room to grow as that segment of the market is down 9 percent year over year.

NJ online casinos, however, continue to thrive as the $22.3 million in May revenue was up 18 percent year over year and in itself would have been an online gambling revenue record earlier this year.

Overall, year-over-year revenue has increased by more than $3 million. But here’s the gaudy figure: Lifetime online gambling revenue for New Jersey is on pace to reach $1 billion by the end of the year.

Golden Nugget remains the revenue king

Once again sitting at the top of the market is Golden Nugget, which eclipsed $8 million for the third straight month. For perspective, the casino’s reported $8.6 million in May was up 45.4 percent from last year’s $5.9 million.

Also enjoying a huge year-over-year spike was Borgata, though it remains a distant second to Golden Nugget. Borgata clocked in at nearly $4.6 million in May for an annual growth of 31 percent.

Caesars also surpassed $4 million (the only other time both casinos accomplished that feat was in March) and totaled nearly $4.1 million in May for a 12.4 percent increase year over year.

Online poker has been key for Caesars’ revenue growth, and interstate poker is certainly helping. A month after reporting $450,000, Caesars piled up more than $770,000 in May to take over as the poker leader in New Jersey.

To boot, Caesars enjoyed a $300,000 boost in casino revenue for a casino total of $3.3 million last month.

Revenue booster on the horizon

As it has been well-documented, the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA on May 14 to clear the path for legalized sports betting. On Thursday, NJ sports betting kicked into gear at Monmouth Park racetrack and at Borgata Atlantic City with several other casinos soon to follow.

As NJ online gambling revenue continues to grow, legal sports betting could supply casinos with a significant boost.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday put his signature on the sports betting bill to allow the state to begin rolling out single-game wagering. Physical sports books could begin accepting bets almost immediately, but online and mobile wagering will be available after 30 days.

That factor could prove beneficial to casinos such as Resorts AC, which this past month just beat out Tropicana for second-to-last place with $3.6 million in online gambling revenue.

Resorts has partnered with daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings to run its sportsbook, which could pay dividends in revenue once it goes online. Later this month, Ocean Resort Casino will make its debut on the Boardwalk and with bookmaker William Hill US at the helm.

June’s revenue report will not fully reflect the effect of sports betting at NJ gambling sites. But in a few months, it could lead to even more unprecedented figures.

NJ Sports Betting Finally Crosses The Finish Line As Governor Signs Bill Into Law

At long last, NJ sports betting is officially legal in the state. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the sports betting bill into law on Monday, clearing the way for sportsbooks to open at Atlantic City casinos and NJ racetracks.

Finally, the wait is over.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 4111 in Trenton on Monday afternoon, legalizing NJ sports betting and ending a brief-yet-tense couple of weeks in the Garden State.

Making ‘the dream … a reality’ in NJ

Under the bill, licensed casinos and racetracks will be authorized to accept wagers at their respective sportsbook lounges almost immediately.

Monmouth Park, for example, is expected to open its sportsbook at 10:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. Sites without lounges can petition to operate a “sports pool” at temporary facilities while their books are being built.

Additionally, online and mobile sportsbooks will be able to begin receiving bets 30 days after the effective date of the bill.

“Today, we’re finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to sign Assembly Bill 4111 because it means that our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects. This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy.”

What else does the new law do?

Also in the law are several provisions:

  • Bettors must be at least 21 years old.
  • Athletes, coaches, referees and “other persons with potential influence or access to non-public information regarding sporting events” are prohibited from placing wagers on events overseen by the leagues in which they participate.
  • Wagers on high school events or collegiate events held in New Jersey or involving New Jersey teams will not be accepted.
  • Land-based sports betting will be taxed at a rate of 8.5 percent while online/electronic wagers will be taxed at 13 percent.

Under the bill, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement and the New Jersey Racing Commission will have at their disposal regulations to allow an already-licensed casino or racetrack to apply for a “transactional waiver” to begin offering sports betting.

According to the release announcing Murphy’s signing, the estimated tax revenue of sports betting for New Jersey is expected to be about $13 million in the first year of operation.

There are no integrity fees or other measures that the leagues have actively lobbied for since the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (aka PASPA) on May 14.

NJ finally gets into the game

New Jersey carried the load for the better part of six years in the fight for legalized sports betting. The state dropped a reported $9 million in legal fees alone before SCOTUS ruled PASPA unconstitutional and opened the door for regulated single-game wagering across the country.

Lawmakers, casinos, and racetracks were anxious to make New Jersey the first state outside of Nevada to offer sports betting.

Last Thursday, the state Assembly and Senate unanimously approved A 4111 to send the bill to Murphy’s desk for his signature. But Murphy was apparently not as eager to finalize legislation.

“We’re not going to sit on it, but we just got it,” Murphy said last week. “We’re going to have sports betting sooner (rather) than later in New Jersey and I’m really excited about that. I’m not going to change my stripes just because it’s a big weekend. We’ve got to make sure we do what we do right.”

Delaware ultimately beat New Jersey to the punch by legalizing sports betting — two days before NJ lawmakers sent the bill to Murphy’s desk. The notoriety of being the first is seemingly not a concern for New Jersey, however.

All that matters is that sports betting is now legal and regulated.

What’s next for NJ sports betting?

Only a few relative formalities stand between NJ bettors and placing their first legalized wagers in the state.

From Monday’s release:

“On Wednesday, June 13th, the New Jersey Racing Commission will hold a meeting to review regulations related to the establishment of sports betting at New Jersey racetracks. Following the Racing Commission adopting regulations, the Governor will be able to ratify the Racing Commission’s decision and licensed racetracks will then be able to apply for a temporary waiver to commence sports betting.”

As of now, it seems only Monmouth Park will have its sportsbook go live this week.

Other facilities to keep an eye on include Borgata in Atlantic City, which has plans in place to convert its racebook into a sportsbook. Meadowlands Racetrack partnered with Betfair US to have a lounge and a mobile presence.

William Hill, the British bookmaker that will operate at Monmouth, has also teamed up with incoming AC property Ocean Resort Casino. All told, there could be nine active casinos in New Jersey with sportsbooks.

With NJ Sports Betting Bill Unsigned, Monmouth Park Gets Another Delay Of Game

The NJ sports betting bill is in the hands of Gov. Phil Murphy, but he says he won’t sign it until he’s reviewed it. For Monmouth Park, this means another day of waiting for its William Hill sportsbook.

Monmouth Park has been ready to roll out sports betting for six years or so. The New Jersey racetrack had to put plans on hold during a yearslong US Supreme Court battle involving New Jersey and the sports leagues.

When the high court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) last month, it opened the door for legalized sports betting in New Jersey.

Yet with NJ sports betting legislation still unsigned by Gov. Phil Murphy, Monmouth must now wait longer before diving into the industry.

Murphy emphasizes no sports betting yet

On Thursday, legislation was unanimously passed by the New Jersey Assembly and Senate.

It was then passed on to Murphy, who has yet to sign the bill. Until he does so, sports betting still doesn’t have a green light in the Garden State.

The problem is the NJ properties and their sportsbooks have been eager to get into the sports betting game. Specifically, Monmouth had targeted this weekend for its debut of a $2.5 million sportsbook. The sportsbook is headed by British bookmaker William Hill.

Murphy, though, has told Monmouth Park president and CEO Dennis Drazin that the racetrack’s plans will have to be suspended. And they will continue to be shelved until Murphy has had an opportunity to review the legislation.

“We’re not going to sit on it, but we just got it,” Murphy said in a press conference. “We’re going to have sports betting sooner (rather) than later in New Jersey and I’m really excited about that. I’m not going to change my stripes just because it’s a big weekend. We’ve got to make sure we do what we do right.”

NJ sports betting bill in limbo?

Murphy’s actions have come as something of a surprise.

Immediately following the SCOTUS ruling to strike down PASPA, Murphy in a statement said he was “thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey and strike down the arbitrary ban on sports betting imposed by Congress decades ago.”

He was eager to enact a law “authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future.”

In turn, racetracks and Atlantic City casinos were anticipating a quick turnaround of rules and regulations to make the state the first outside of Nevada to offer single-game wagering.

Nearly a month after the high court’s ruling, however, NJ is now looking to become the second state after Delaware rolled out legalized sports betting earlier this week.

Politico reported on Monday that Murphy may be using his signature as leverage during budget negotiations with the NJ Legislature. Others, however, believe Murphy has not put pen to paper because of amplified pressure on passing the bill. He wants to take his time and, as noted above, “make sure we do what we do right.”

Monmouth still waiting to turn things around

The 72-year-old racetrack has ridden a steady decline over the past few years. Most of Monmouth Park’s revenue since being leased from the state in 2012 has been generated by wagers. As a result, the track has had to spend its own money on race purses, which themselves have dropped in value.

For several years, Monmouth Park has sought alternative revenue streams to stay afloat. Then, SCOTUS cleared the path for NJ sports betting. An opportunity arose, and Drazin leaped at it. The racetrack partnered with William Hill and began plans to open a sportsbook lounge.

Drazin had aimed to have the book open by Friday, in time for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the MLB Subway Series between the New York Yankees and Mets and for the Belmont Stakes.

Once again, Monmouth’s wait will continue. The track cannot accept wagers until Murphy signs the bill. If it does, the New Jersey Racing Commission would have those bets reviewed, which could delay the licensing process even further.

“I’m trying to get open as soon as I can,” Drazin said, “But at the end of the day I have a responsibility to Monmouth Park and the state and the local community. If I do something that causes Monmouth Park to get delayed in opening, then that doesn’t help anybody, so I have to respect the process.”

DraftKings Dives Into NJ Sports Betting Market With Resorts Atlantic City Deal

DraftKings’ partnership with Resorts Atlantic City to use its casino license to offer sports betting in New Jersey is the culmination of months of speculation but also comes with a lot of unanswered questions.

DraftKings has long been a leader in daily fantasy sports. Now, it is swan-diving into sports betting.

Last week, the DFS giant announced it was partnering with Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel to offer sports wagering in New Jersey. Per the agreement, DraftKings will enter NJ sports betting under the Resorts land-based casino license.

For months DraftKings has planned on such a coup. Now, according to company CEO Jason Robins, DraftKings is “ready to go” as a prime New Jersey sportsbook.

Why get into NJ sports betting?

DraftKings had its pulse on the potential of sports betting for some time. It made sense for the company to expand into that market.

The customer base is much the same. Daily fantasy sports and sports betting both align with fan behavior. Sports betting was about to become the hottest ticket as acceptance continues to grow among lawmakers and the general public across the country.

And, of course, revenue from sports betting would largely outweigh DFS earnings.

In February, DraftKings hired a “Head of Sportsbook” to run the company’s new office in Hoboken. Why? New Jersey was theoretically on its way to winning its case with the US Supreme Court, which ultimately struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

DraftKings, like many, was expecting such a ruling. Naturally, the company was looking to get its foot in the door of what should become a booming industry.

However, DraftKings was missing one key factor. In order to offer sports betting, DraftKings needed to partner with a land-based casino.

Enter Resorts.

What’s old is now new

Resorts is the oldest casino on the Boardwalk. Eight years ago, the casino nearly had to close its doors. Now, it is doing something innovative.

In its 40th-anniversary year, Resorts is enjoying a renaissance — even when it was not even considered among the candidates to land DraftKings.

When DraftKings alluded to dipping its toes into the sports betting pool, incoming AC casinos Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino were considered more likely to partner with the DFS company.

To boot, Resorts already had an in-house fantasy sports product called FastPick.

Fast-forward a few months, and Resorts is your partner with DraftKings, which has a database of sports gaming enthusiasts including as many as 10 million players. (How many of those are “active” is a question for another time.)

“We are excited to work with Resorts Hotel Casino to bring our new DraftKings sportsbook to New Jersey,” said Robins. “As a tech savvy and a long-term growth-oriented organization, Resorts Hotel Casino aligns perfectly with our customer-focused, innovation culture.”

Resorts owner Morris Bailey was equally excited about the partnership:

“We are at a pivotal moment in the development of sports betting in the U.S. We are delighted to be able to have DraftKings utilize our gaming license in New Jersey. DraftKings continues to be at the forefront of sports entertainment innovation, and today’s announcement is the first step in being able to offer customers in New Jersey the most dynamic sports betting platform.”

What’s next for Resorts and DraftKings?

Certainly, no wagering can be offered until New Jersey passes legislation regulating sports betting. That said, details are few and far between in terms of how this partnership will work.

It is nearly assured that Resorts will boast a physical sportsbook, which will likely be DraftKings-branded. Still, how will the sportsbook be staffed, and how will risk management be handled?

In terms of mobile, DraftKings said in a release that it would “launch a sports betting app along with a web-based platform.” What technology DraftKings intends to offer has not been announced, nor if it will be offered in-house or if a third-party partnership will be developed. To date, DraftKings has only ever offered DFS contests.

Another sports betting partnership in place

Regardless of the questions, once NJ legislation is passed, which could happen as soon as June 7, it is expected that the first sportsbooks in the Garden State will open its doors.

Currently, Monmouth Park and Ocean Resort are both teamed with British bookmaker William Hill. Golden Nugget appears likely to partner with SBTech, though a deal has not been announced.

Resorts and DraftKings are looking to be among that first group to offer sports betting.