The Growth Of The NJ Online Gambling Industry Continues To Build: New Records Set In March

April 13, 2017 817 Reads
NJ online casino growth March

Given the recent growth trajectory of the New Jersey online gambling industry, it really comes as little surprise that the market’s online casino and poker sites combined to set a new monthly revenue record in March.

What does surprise is the margin of victory.

Top-line NJ online gambling numbers for March

Last month, NJ online gambling generated $21,745,431, sailing past the $20 million for the first time in industry history. The market shattered its previous revenue record, set in January 2017, by over $2.92 million.

To put March’s performance into further context, consider that:

  • Revenue was up 16.1 percent over February (+4.9 percent after normalizing for March’s longer length)
  • Margins climbed by a staggering 40.2 percent year-over-year

The last time the industry experienced this kind of annual growth was back in June 2016, when industry revenue grew by 40.6 percent.

Leading the charge, as always, was the industry’s online casino arm, which nearly brought in $20 million on its own. Online casino revenue clocked in at $19.49 million, up 17.8 percent over February, and 49.4 percent year-on-year — and no that figure is not a typo.

Not the best, but also the best

Surprisingly, there have been months where online casino experienced even larger annual gains.

In November 2015, revenue was up 64.2 percent, and 52.6 percent in February 2016. But in terms of monetary growth, March 2017 was the best month for NJ online casinos ever.

Online casino now accounts for a whopping 89.6 percent of industry revenue. But for all the attention that online casino will inevitably receive, NJ online poker didn’t stumble too badly, generating $2.25 million in March — up slightly for the month, but down after normalization.

March’s figures suggest that the market has not even come close to realizing its full potential. And while growth margins of last month’s magnitude are admittedly the exception and not the rule, it wouldn’t surprise if the industry experienced annual gains of 30 percent or more for the duration of 2017.

Milestones, milestones, milestones

The NJ online gambling industry reached a number of significant milestones in March:

  • The Borgata online gambling license has generated over $150 million in revenue since launch
  • Tropicana AC (online casino only) pushed past $100 million in total revenue last month
  • Upstart Resorts, which didn’t even launch its first online casino site until February 2015, has taken in over $50 million in revenue

Also worth noting, is that the NJ online gambling industry has now paid over $80 million in tax revenue for the state.

What’s interesting here is that it took the industry just over two years to pay its first $40 million in taxes, but only 16 months to double that figure.

Looking at recent trends, it’s all but a guarantee that the industry will fork over the next $40 million to state coffers at an even swifter clip.

Is there any stopping Golden Nugget AC?

Short answer: no. After becoming the first operator to eclipse $5 million in monthly revenue in February, the Golden Nugget triumvirate (Golden Nugget Casino, Betfair Casino, Play SugarHouse) amassed over $6 million last month — $6,176,515 to be exact.

To put the significance of this achievement into perspective, consider:

  • Golden Nugget AC revenue is up 101 percent year-on-year
  • The operator outpaced second place Borgata by over $1.8 million. Borgata supports both online casino and poker sites; Golden Nugget AC is casino only.
  • Combined, Caesars‘ and Borgata’s online casino operations did not generate as much revenue as Golden Nugget.
  • Golden Nugget outperformed its closest online casino-only competitor, the partnership of Tropicana Casino and Virgin Casino, by over $2.3 million. This, despite the fact that Tropicana set its own high water mark for revenue in March.
  • Revenue for Golden Nugget casino was up $1 million month-on-month, representing gains of 19.3 percent (+7.8 percent after normalizing for March’s three extra days).

On an average daily basis, Golden Nugget generated nearly $200,000 per day, and there’s little doubt the operator won’t surpass that figure — if not in April, then soon.

The question that begs to be answered: How did Golden Nugget accomplish last month’s feat?

The most obvious theory is tied to the rollout of two massive promotional events on Golden Nugget Casino:

  • Games Madness awarded $20,000 to the top Golden (loyalty) Points earners in March.
  • Games Madness was just one leg of a larger 10-month long promotion that will see the top players for that timeframe split a more than $100k prize pool.

Both of these promotions encourage high volume play, particularly at the virtual slot terminals, where patrons earn Golden Points at an expedited clip.

Players were more than happy to oblige to the terms, as based on the final leaderboard, the whales threw around money like it was going out of style.

Full breakdown by NJ online gambling operator

  • Golden Nugget Casino: $6,176,515
  • Borgata: $4,353,920
  • Resorts: $4,199,455
  • Tropicana: $3,864,023
  • Caesars: $3,151,518

Resorts had something of a banner month of its own, with online casino revenue up a blistering 157 percent year-on-year, and up nearly $1.13 million over February.

It was the first time that the operator cracked $4 million in gross gaming revenue.

Online poker is mostly flat…again

Lost in the mix was online poker, which had by all accounts, a relatively boring month. The vertical generated $2.25 million in March, was up 3.8 percent month-on-month, but down -6.3 percent after normalizing.

For the year, online poker sunk 8.5 percent. It was the first time that the industry experienced a year-over-year decline since February 2016.

However, the decline can easily be explained away, as March 2016 was when PokerStars NJ first burst upon the scene. The operator had an immediate and forceful impact on industry revenue.

There was no real movement in the online poker rankings:

  • PokerStars held a firm grip on the No. 1 spot, generating $909k in March, good for a commanding 40.3 percent market share in the three-horse race.
  • WSOP 888 held on to second, raking in $692,976.
  • Party / Borgata brought up the rear for the fifth consecutive month, bringing in $650,686.

The fact that daily average revenue was down for March comes off as a little disappointing, as both PokerStars and Party/Borgata held high-profile events.

For PokerStars, it was its month-long 1st Year Anniversary promotion, and for Party/Borgata, the sixth running of its Garden State Super Series.

From the looks of it, these events were only partially effective at fighting the inevitable downturn that online poker sites face when the weather warms.