Online Casino Revenue Continues To Boom In New Jersey

Updated: 13 Casino

While casino figures continue to impress, the outlook is not as rosy for the retail side of operations.

Online Casino Revenue Continues To Boom In New Jersey

Orlov Sergei // Shutterstock

John Brennan US Gambling News Editor

John is our gambling industry expert for New Jersey bringing the breaking news in all things NJ online gaming

  • Removing 2020, due to COVID, casino revenue in the Garden State has increased every year since 2016.
  • Online casino revenue is projected to nearly double from 2020 to 2023 to $1.86 billion.
  • Data for the first four months of 2023 is now available.

With casino revenue figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement now available for fully one-third of 2023, overall casino revenue in the state seems poised for yet another rise overall from the year before it.

That has been true every year since 2016, aside from 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic left Atlantic City's nine casinos shuttered for several months.

But a closer look at the annual numbers and the pace so far in 2023 tells a far different story.

On the brick-and-mortar side, the casinos took in $2.41 million in 2015, 2016, and 2017 - with only a few million dollars separating each of the total figures.

That figure inched up to $2.51 million in 2018 and to $2.69 million in 2019 - the first full year of operation for Hard Rock and Ocean casinos -  before COVID 2020 produced only $1.51 million. Many regular gamblers stayed away over health concerns even after the casinos reopened on July 4 weekend.

In 2022, brick-and-mortar revenue climbed to $2.79 million - but after last week's release of the April figures, such revenue is projected to dip slightly to $2.67 million by the end of the calendar year.

Are We Near The Peak For Online Casino Gaming In New Jersey? 

Online casino gaming in New Jersey, which launched in November 2013, began somewhat modestly.

In 2015 - the second full year of operations - revenue was $150 million. That number rose roughly $50 million in each of 2016, 2017, and 2018.

But even with the doubling of the total from 2015 to 2018, at that point, brick-and-mortar revenue still accounted for 89% of total revenue. A jump for online casinos to $480 million in 2019 still only boosted that percentage to 15% of the total.

The odd numbers in 2020 at first no doubt were chalked up to a one-year blip due to COVID, as online casino revenue doubled to $0.97 million thanks to growing awareness by traditional gamblers in the state that another option was on the table - literally, in the case of many desktop computers.

But that dip in 2020 for brick-and-mortar casino revenue to 61% of the total proved enduring. Even with casino rebounds as COVID faded in 2021 and 2022, the brick-and-mortar side settled for 65% of the total in 2021 before reverting back to 61% in 2022.

With four months in the books in 2023, that number has dipped two ticks lower to 59% of the total revenue for casinos.

Not All Revenue Is Equal

Some Atlantic City casino operators have complained that state regulators lump the two sources of dollars together.

That makes it look as if casinos are growing nicely as an industry - on the surface, revenue jumped from $3.17 billion in 2019 to $4.35 billion in 2022.

But the casinos keep the brick-and-mortar dollars for themselves, while they collect only roughly one-third of the online casino revenue (the online casino companies, which admittedly do all the work, retain the rest). Online casino revenue is projected to nearly double from 2020 to 2023 to $1.86 billion – five times the $300 million figure from just five years earlier - which only does the casinos so much good.

The reality, therefore, is that the casinos' bottom lines are not as rosy as the state's official revenue figures make it appear.

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