Knocking on the door is more like it.
All it takes is one look at December’s internet gaming revenue released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The number came in at $99.4 million, a little less than $600,000 shy of the latest benchmark.
This is of course a new all-time monthly record, shattering the previous mark of $93.4 million set in October.
Clearly, New Jersey’s internet gaming business is showing no signs of slowing down. Here are five reasons why the momentum will extend well into 2021.
1. Atlantic City casinos are still struggling
Nobody knows what month Atlantic City casinos will be allowed to operate at full capacity again. The current pandemic is resulting in more players gambling at home versus visiting AC.
Casino floors continue to operate at 25% capacity while restaurants and bars stop serving at 10 p.m. The impact shows in the combined 43.7% drop in casino win for the nine properties ($1.5 million for 2020 versus $2.7 million the previous year). The bulk of it is the result of gaming floors being shut down from mid-March until Fourth of July weekend.
Business is typically slower during the winter months, but the added unknown of when restrictions will be lifted leaves a giant question mark surrounding the land-based business.
2. Remember when $50 million was a big deal?
Looking back at the February totals, the $51.9 is hard to ignore. Sure it’s small compared to where the NJ iGaming industry is now. However, at the time, hitting $50 million in monthly online casino revenue was once considered a milestone.
Last January marked the first time ever internet gaming license holders saw a $50-million month. Here we are one year later, and $80 million would now be considered a disappointing month.
Like the NJ sports betting industry, records are being broken on almost a monthly basis. Yes, there are times where we will see a slight percentage drop like October ($93.4 million) versus November ($91.8 million), but then it’s followed up by a big jump.
So with the first $100-million month looking like a realistic possibility for January, could the first $150-million month be coming soon?
With so many unknown factors, it’s hard to predict.
3. Big winner: Borgata + BetMGM
Looking back at 2020’s top performers, the Borgata and BetMGM results are eye-opening (the Borgata and Party casino brands, among others, also operate under the license).
In December alone, the license holder reported $27.1 million in online casino revenue, good enough for a jump of more than 194%. It’s PlayNJ’s understanding that the BetMGM online casino brand accounts for a large portion of it. The result is good enough for a 27.3% market share.
Golden Nugget, led by Golden Nugget online casino, remains the clubhouse leader, for now, with $29.4 million, which is up 70.2% from the same period last year. However, their market share is 29.6 percent.
Combined, the two license holders account for nearly 60% of the monthly revenue. Borgata and Golden Nugget saw increases of 167.7% and 164.7%, respectively, for ’20.
So besides chasing the $100-million milestone, it’s looking like the tight competition between No. 1 and 2 is going to be one tight race.
4. Bally’s AC entering NJ online casino game
The NJ online casino industry will also see more operators launch in 2021. Now that Bally’s AC is owned by Bally’s Corp. and not Caesars Entertainment, it shouldn’t be too much longer before the new license holder jumps into the game.
At this point, it seems at least three brands will roll out via the Bally’s license. Last year, the company announced separate online casino deals with PointsBet and theScore, with both currently live in the NJ online sports betting space. Plus, a Bally’s-branded app is a no-brainer.
New apps mean new business (along with welcome offers and promos). Sure, it will be challenging establishing their respective brands in a mature market. At the same time, there will be additional revenue opportunities.
Now it’s just a matter of how soon these new apps hit the market and what kind of impact, if any, they’ll have on the more established brands.
5. Can’t forget about NJ sports betting
For December, the 19 sportsbook operators took in $996.3 million in bets. Besides it being an all-time monthly record for any legal U.S. sports betting jurisdiction, the total pushed New Jersey over the $6 billion line, adding to the record year.
Online casino brands are benefiting from the cross-selling of sports, casino, and poker. The table is set for an extremely strong Q1. With Super Bowl betting and March Madness, the two biggest sports wagering events of the calendar year, coming soon, $100-million-plus months for NJ online casinos are looking more and more realistic.
For now, $99.4 million is the new number to beat.