NJ online casinos made $106M in May, while poker rooms made $2.4M and mobile sportsbooks $48M

New Jersey’s Online Gambling Market Stagnant For Second Month Running, Yet Hanging On To Pandemic Gains

May wasn’t the most exciting month for online gambling in New Jersey history. Sometimes, though, a lack of drama is the best thing that can be hoped for. Such is the case in the Garden State at the moment.

Total revenue for the state’s online casinos and poker rooms increased 0.4% relative to April. At $108,170,558, it’s the third consecutive month that the state has been in the nine figures.

What’s important here is that revenue hasn’t declined much, even as the COVID-19 pandemic abates. At this point last year, online casino and poker activity had more than doubled as a result of the complete shutdown of retail gambling.

Many predicted we’d see the opposite scenario play out at the other end. Although it’s too early to say things are “back to normal” in the US, they’re certainly well on their way. Over half the population has had at least one dose of a vaccine, and the rate of infections has been dropping for months. Almost all casinos are open, and many – including those in Atlantic City – no longer have capacity limits.

Yet online gambling is still going as strong as ever. Retail gamblers may have originally moved online as a substitute for in-person play, but it looks as if they’ve discovered that it has advantages of its own, even when the brick-and-mortar option is available too. That combination is powerful: With retail gambling back and online still going strong, New Jersey had $374.2 million in all-channel gross gaming revenue in May, nearly quadruple that of May 2020.

Data for this article comes from the latest report from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

NJ online gambling revenue highlights – May 2021

Although the monthly total for the Garden State rose slightly, it must be noted that May is a day longer than April. Taking that into account, the daily average actually dropped by 2.8%. Operators collectively managed to pull in $3.49 million on an average day in May, compared to $3.59 million in April.

This change is very similar to what’s seen in the numbers released by Michigan earlier in the week. There, the monthly total was almost exactly identical to April’s, implying a 3.3% drop in the daily average. Pennsylvania hasn’t released its revenue numbers yet, but given how similar it was to New Jersey in April, it will probably echo this pattern as well.

These doldrums are likely to continue for several more months as well. Although the US online casino market hasn’t seen the post-COVID correction many were predicting, people are eager to get out and do things in person. Against that backdrop, significant additional growth for online gambling is probably too much to hope for.

Here are some other important numbers from the May data:

  • Total iGaming revenue for the state was up 25.9% year-on-year, from $85.9 million in May 2020. More importantly, it’s almost triple the figure from May 2019, which was $38.3 million, showing just how much the industry has grown in just two years.
  • Operators collectively paid $16.2 million in state tax, plus $2.7 million to Atlantic City, for a total of $18.9 million.

New Jersey market analysis – by operator

Resorts had the most impressive month of the state’s licensees. Its monthly revenue increased just under 10%, or 6.3% when calculated as a daily average. This doesn’t change its position in the market at all, as it is in a rather solid third place. It did, however, boost its market share to 20%, from a little over 18% in April.

With $21.5 million in combined casino and poker revenue, Resorts is under no threat from fourth-place Caesars Casino, which made $9.2 million in May. By the same token, it doesn’t look likely to challenge Golden Nugget for second, as it grossed $31.1 million.

It’s interesting that Resorts had such a solid month, as its major skins are DraftKings Casino and PokerStars, both of which saw revenue decline in Michigan. Mohegan Sun and Resorts’ own online casino also operate on the license, but are believed to contribute in a smaller way.

Other shifts in the market landscape include:

  • The top two licensees, Borgata and Golden Nugget both saw a dip. Golden Nugget lost more, however, with a 7.2% decrease in its daily average compared to 3.4% for Borgata. As a result, Borgata has expanded its claim to being home to NJ’s top online casinos, an honor it first took from Golden Nugget in March. Even so, only a little more than 5% separates the two.
  • Hard Rock continues to be the most volatile license-holder, with its daily average soaring 14.8% after dropping 12% from March to April. These alternating ups and downs have been its pattern for some time.
  • Other small licensees had a bad month. Tropicana saw its daily average fall 15.9% and Ocean dropped 13.3%.

New Jersey market analysis – by vertical

NJ online poker rooms performed slightly worse than online casinos in May, as it has most months in the past year. The casino vertical matched the overall market trend, with a 2.8% drop in the daily average, while poker rooms lost 3.2%.

WSOP.com was responsible for that drop, having shed 12.6% of its daily average revenue relative to April. The Partypoker Network, which includes BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker, held steady.

PokerStars bucked the trend, gaining 8.5%. The reason for that is clear enough, since it ran the New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJSCOOP) from May 8 to 24. These SCOOPs almost always draw a crowd, and have both a direct and indirect impact on site revenue by giving players an incentive to top up their account balances.

NJSCOOP can’t be credited with the difference between PokerStars’ performance in Michigan and Resorts’ in New Jersey, however. For one thing, the Michigan equivalent, MISCOOP, ran at the same time. Moreover, poker revenue from PokerStars accounted for just 3.3% of Resorts’ total, and probably no more than a third of PokerStars’ revenue in Michigan, though there’s no breakdown by vertical in that state.

New Jersey sports betting – May 2021

New Jersey sportsbooks earned $52,895,430 in May, over 90% of that through online betting. That’s a drop of 3.5% from April, or 6.7% after accounting for the number of days in each month.

The drop comes down to a reduction in hold, however. Sportsbooks in the state managed to keep 7.3 cents on the dollar in April, but only 6.5 cents in May. Looking at handle instead, bookmakers took $814,270,654 in bets in May, versus $747,986,522 in April.

That 8.9% increase in daily average handle is pretty big for a late spring month, which is ordinarily a quiet time of year. There’s no comparison to be made with last year, when most professional sports were shut down, but even in 2019, there was a slight decline in handle from April to May.

For more on New Jersey sports betting, see the latest coverage at Legal Sports Report.

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- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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