With land-based casinos shuttered and sports on hiatus, New Jersey’s online poker and online casino industry posted some rather impressive but not unexpected numbers in April.
Based on the latest revenue report from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey Online casinos had their best month to date in April, taking in nearly $75 million. Online poker also set a new high-water mark in April, eclipsing $5 million for the first time. That’s more than double the revenue online poker and casino generated in April 2019.
And even with major sports leagues shuttered, New Jersey online sportsbooks managed to collect $2.6 million for the month.
Online Gambling Stems the Bleeding
Other states lacking online gambling aren’t as fortunate. Their gambling revenue has dropped to zero.
However, the $82.6 million represents a fraction (about 31%) of the typical gaming revenue New Jersey would expect in April.
- April 2020 total gambling revenue: $82,593,876
- April 2019 total gambling revenue: $265,381,245
Further, online gambling revenue (sports, casino, and poker) only rose by about $30 million year-over-year. That means that well over $200 million in gambling revenue disappeared.
Bottom line: Online gambling revenue has risen, but it’s acting as a band-aid until land-based casinos reopen and sports betting returns in full.
But even though New Jersey’s gambling industry is generating less than a third of what it produced last year, don’t lose sight of the fact that most other states can’t get their hand on band-aids, and their gaming revenue is bleeding out.
The Sudden Rise of Online Poker
Online poker in New Jersey is seeing the largest percentage gains during the casino shutdowns. The $5.1 million produced in April is nearly triple New Jersey’s average online poker numbers.
As noted in a previous column, the spike in online poker speaks to how devoted poker players are.
A big part of that stems from the ability to play the game professionally. Unlike the typical slot or table game gambler, there’s a subset of poker players that have to play, and that subset will put in a lot of volume. That could help explain the outsized growth of online poker during the shutdown.
Another possible, but lesser, factor at play is sports bettors who consider themselves advantage gamblers. That makes them more likely to gravitate towards online poker rather than other casino games with house edges. Although, as you’ll see in the next header, that also occurred.
Online Casino Growth
Online casino is growing too, albeit, at a slower rate.
Of course, online casino was already a juggernaut, while online poker had nowhere to go but up.
But with far more slots and table game players at a casino than poker players, that doesn’t explain why online casino hasn’t grown at the same rate as online poker since the casino shutdowns.
As mentioned above, the answer seems to be two-fold: the ability to cross-sell to sports bettors and shifting land-based customers to online play. The former seems to be fading, while the latter will likely continue to drive growth throughout the shutdown.
At the ICE North America virtual conference, Hard Rock International’s Kresimir Spajic and Seth Young from PointsBet noted that initially, sports customers shifted some of their play to online casino, but that shift has declined over time. Spajic went on to say that the recent gains in online casino are from core land-based casino customers finding their way online.
Looking at the changes in the growth trends for casino and poker, it appears poker players are more prone to move their play online.
The Return of Sports Is on the Horizon
A robust sports schedule, coupled with rising online casino and poker revenue could have shot New Jersey revenue up to $130 million in April 2020, or about 50% of what the state generated in April 2019.
We could start to see that in May.
The reopening of Atlantic City casinos still seems quite a way off, and a return to previous levels even further down the road. But the band-aid provided by online poker and online casino could soon turn into a tourniquet with the return of major sports in different parts of the globe.