NJ casino, sports and online gambling revenue up 15% in May

NJ casino, sports and online gambling revenue up 15% in May

ATLANTIC CITY — New Jersey’s casinos, horse tracks that offer sports betting and the online partners of both types of gambling outlets won $430.6 million from gamblers in May, up 15% from a year earlier, figures released Thursday show.

And the casinos’ core business, revenue won from in-person gamblers, fell just short of the level of May 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, an important metric for Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar casino industry, whose revenue has been struggling to rebound from pre-pandemic levels.

The numbers do not include money the tracks won on horse races, which is reported separately to a different agency.

Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, which studies the Atlantic City gambling industry, said the numbers show a continuing pattern of recovery for the resort's casinos in the third year of the coronavirus pandemic.

“However, inflation may be beginning to impact in-person gaming revenues,” she said. “Brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue totals for the month, expected to improve over last month’s $235.3 million, were effectively flat at $233 million, down less than 1%.”

Bokunewicz said visitors are likely to still want to visit Atlantic City with its casinos, beaches, nightclubs and restaurants. But once they get here, they may have less money to spend, she said.

Atlantic City casino workers are voicing strong support for a potential strike against the gambling houses as union members vote on whether to authorize a walkout if new contracts are not reached soon. Members of Local 54 of the Unite Here union were voting Wednesday on whether to empower their leadership to call a strike. Voting ended at 7 p.m. and union officials said they expected it to take about an hour to count the ballots. A "yes” vote will not result in an immediate strike. It simply gives the union’s negotiating committee, comprised of workers from all nine casinos, the power to call a strike if and when they see fit.

James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said total revenue, including internet and sports betting, was the highest for the month of May in over a decade.

“The volume of activity in Atlantic City’s casino hotels has been robust and, coupled with a maturing online gaming business, can be a powerful combination,” he said.

In terms of money won from in-person gamblers, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa led the market in May at $63.3 million, up over 30% from a year earlier.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City was next at $41.5 million, up nearly 19%; Ocean Casino Resort was third at $25.3 million, up nearly 3%, and Tropicana Atlantic City was fourth at $21.6 million, up 8.5%.

Harrah's Resort Atlantic City won $21.2 million, down 1.6%; Caesars Atlantic City won $20.2 million, down 9.5%; Resorts Casino Hotel won $14.1 million, down 8%; Golden Nugget Atlantic City won $12.7 million, down 3%; and Bally's Atlantic City won $12.6 million, up 2.6%.

Gamblers wagered $766.4 million on sports in May. Total sports betting revenue, after winning bets and other expenses were paid, was $61.5 million, up 16.4% from a year ago.

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The casinos' internet gambling operations won $136 million in May, up nearly 26%, although casino executives say that figure is misleading because about 70% of online winnings are kept by third-party partners.

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