Are New Jersey Casinos Declining?
Although online casino games have only been legal in New Jersey since 2013, they have quickly become a significant part of the state’s lucrative gambling industry, and revenues continue to grow year after year.
In March, July and September 2018, the revenues of online casino games were more than 25 million dollars. Compared to 2017’s sales, this year’s monthly growth has been double-digit. Rural casinos in Atlantic City, meanwhile, brought in less than $20 million a month, prompting some analysts and casino experts to wonder whether online gambling would stunt casino growth.
Atlantic City’s casino industry suffered in 2016 when five major casinos, including the Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and Trump Plaza, closed their doors and tables in the months leading up to the election. During the same period, online casino games grew at an annual rate of 62.5 percent. As a result, online operations of land-based casinos can significantly increase profits. However, it is possible that such a policy “cannibalizes” the sales of other companies.
Steve Norton, a former casino executive and Atlantic City analyst, argues that the success of online gaming is putting this “once-healthy” industry at risk because it is likely to reduce attendance at our casinos. As a result, “downsizing” can lead to job losses, bankruptcies, and lower casino revenues and dividends.
As if the competition in the online gaming industry isn’t enough, two brand new integrated resorts recently opened in Atlantic City: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino. The battle to increase non-gaming and land-based casino revenue for all government agencies is now more difficult than ever. Surprisingly, gaming revenue decreased in September 2018 from the previous year in six of the nine casinos still open in Atlantic City.
Wayne Schaffel, another Atlantic City casino insider, believes that as state revenues continue to decline, New Jersey will likely grow its already lucrative iGaming market (including casino games and betting) over the next decade, further undermining the casino and leading to closure. “
The temptation to play online
According to worldwide statistics, online casino gaming sites serve a much wider audience than traditional casinos, and this is also true for players in New Jersey. Online casinos and poker rooms provide a relatively private and open-minded environment for playing, which makes them attractive to female players and minorities who may not feel comfortable in a crowded casino. When you consider the wealth of money-saving bonus codes available on online platforms, you’ll start playing casino games at a fraction of the cost of a regular casino.
Online casino games are no longer just for desktops and laptops; handheld devices are critical to the continued growth of the industry. Players can quickly and easily download mobile casinos and individual apps to their smartphones and tablets, ensuring they have access to their favorite games. In addition, online casinos are still open and offer games to customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
With a better view
Schaffel and Norton could agree that there is “no real way to make up the shortfall” that would result from closing new casinos in New Jersey. However, not all Atlantic City experts agree. PlayNJ.com lead analyst Steve Ruddock’s notion of cannibalization of the online casino space elsewhere is more hyperbole than fact. He believes online casino gaming is overhyped, claiming it “hasn’t adversely affected visits or consumer spending,” citing five years of data that suggests it’s beneficial across the board.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City Casino, currently the leading online gaming casino in New Jersey with over $227 million in online sales, is proof of this counter-theory. The online operation of this in-country casino has increased sales and brand awareness among younger customers. “The growth of online games coincided with the strong growth of our land-based business,” says the casino’s CEO and head of online gaming, Thomas Winter.