Online gaming: Good or bad for NJ casinos?
Coming off its best month since launching in late 2013, online gambling revenue continues its steady climb in the Garden State, padding the bottom line of corresponding Atlantic City casinos.
The five online gaming sites brought in $17.3 million in July 2016, compared to $12.5 million the same time last year.
While any winnings are welcome in the struggling resort town, the same debate has existed since before online gambling was signed into law: would device-friendly gaming take business away from the brick-and-mortar casinos themselves?
We spoke to a couple experts close to the issue who say "no." If anything, online gaming is offering a boost that otherwise wouldn't exist.
According to Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, New Jersey's internet platforms serve as a marketing tool for the true casinos, attracting customers that may have been unwilling to take the trip before signing up online.
"They can award you an overnight stay or a free buffet... but things that you can only redeem at the land-based casinos," Gros said.
In a 2014 Consumer Insight Group survey, 70 percent of New Jersey online players said they intend to visit land-based casinos as often as they did before they began to wager online.
As of July 31, more than 1 million accounts had been created among New Jersey's online gambling sites, according to the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Users can sign up for as many platforms as they'd like, and the figure does not factor in closed or inactive accounts.
At $3.9 million, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa took in the most online revenue in July.
"We are very pleased with real money, online gaming in New Jersey," Joe Lupo, Borgata's senior vice president of operations, told New Jersey 101.5 in an email. "Not only are we speaking to a different consumer, we have been very happy with the results and are looking at the venture years down the road, so with the market continuing to grow, we are very pleased."
Revenue from against-the-house games, such as blackjack, heavily outweighed the revenue from peer-to-peer games, such as poker, on any platforms that offer both.
According to Gros, New Jersey's casinos will benefit further if/when the state teams up with other entities that allow online poker. The more players at the tables, and the more games, the more money that's up for grabs.
There's a close eye on neighboring Pennsylvania, which is advancing a bill to legalize online gambling. Gros noted New Jersey already has an agreement to share players with the United Kingdom, but the particular details still need to be worked out.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at Dino.Flammia@townsquaremedia.com