New Jersey’s Gambling Scene Hits a High Note in May with a $510 Million Win

Key Takeaways:

  • New Heights in Revenue: New Jersey's casinos, sports betting tracks, and online partners saw an 8.3% revenue increase in May.
  • Digital Domination: Internet gambling continues to thrive, nearly matching its record performance.
  • Mixed Results for In-person Gambling: While total revenue is up, only three of nine casinos outperformed their pre-pandemic in-person gambling earnings.

In the bustling world of New Jersey gambling, the stakes are always high, but May brought with it a wave of success that has industry insiders and bettors alike buzzing. The Garden State's casinos, horse tracks accepting sports bets, and their online counterparts raked in nearly $510 million from gamblers, marking an impressive 8.3% increase from the previous year. This surge in revenue is not just about numbers; it's a testament to the evolving landscape of gambling in New Jersey, where digital platforms continue to play a starring role.

Internet gambling, a powerhouse in the industry, narrowly missed surpassing its own record set in March. This strong performance underscores the growing appeal of online betting, a realm that has expanded significantly in recent years. Yet, the core of the casino business, the in-person gambler, showed signs of a complex recovery. While the collective in-person winnings in May exceeded the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, only Borgata, Ocean, and Hard Rock casinos managed to outperform their May 2019 in-person gambling revenue. This mixed bag of results suggests a cautious optimism in the industry about recovery and growth.

James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, highlighted this achievement, noting the promising start to the summer season and the strong consumer interest driven by recent investments in casino hotels. However, Jane Bokunewicz, of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, offers a note of caution. She points out that while revenue increases are encouraging, they may not directly translate to higher profitability due to rising expenses and inflationary pressures affecting both operators and consumers.

The battle for profitability is most evident in the breakdown of in-person winnings, where the disparity among casinos is stark. For instance, Borgata led with $61.4 million, a modest 1.5% increase, while others like Tropicana and Harrah's saw declines. This uneven recovery highlights the ongoing challenges and opportunities within the Atlantic City casino industry.

The broader picture includes substantial earnings from sports betting and internet gambling, which must be shared with third parties such as tech platforms or sportsbooks. This sharing model underscores the complexity of revenue streams in the modern gambling industry. For example, Borgata nearly hit $111 million when including sports betting and internet gambling, despite a slight overall decrease.

Sports betting, in particular, continues to be a lucrative area, with the casinos and tracks taking nearly $839 million worth of bets in May alone. This level of activity reflects the growing acceptance and enthusiasm for sports betting among New Jersey residents and visitors.

As the summer season heats up, the New Jersey gambling scene appears poised for continued growth and transformation. The rise of internet gambling, coupled with the steady, if uneven, recovery of in-person betting, paints a picture of an industry at a crossroads, navigating the challenges of the post-pandemic world while embracing the opportunities of the digital age.

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