New Jersey’s gambling scene is starting to return to normal. Although brick and mortar casino figures are down year over year, the state saw a pretty healthy return from lockdown, and online numbers are some of the best in 2020.
Casinos and horse tracks brought in $264.5 million for the month of July, down 21% from July 2019. But that came with operations only being allowed 25% of their capacity, so not bad all things considered.
But online gambling was where things start to shine. The state saw $87.4 million for the month from online casino play, blowing past the $2 billion lifetime road marker. Sports betting saw $29.5 million in revenue, up 65% from the year before despite only getting a full slate of sporting options late in the month.
“Even with public health precautions in place, there was great concern that patrons would not yet feel safe visiting the casinos in person, and there would be an extended ‘COVID drag’ on the industry,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of a gambling and tourism institute at Stockton University.
Two casinos actually did better in July 2020 than they had in the previous year: Ocean Casino Resort saw revenues up 30.3%, and the Golden Nugget was up 17%. Meanwhile, the Hard Rock saw revenues dip 24$ year on year.
While sports betting was up from the year previous, PlayNJ believes it could have been far better during a normal year. They estimate New Jersey could have seen $150 million more under normal conditions, and point to $1.6 billion in wager lost to the pandemic in 2020 as a whole.
But August is expected to be much better, so long as the leagues can keep their players safe. “August should be an unusually busy month for sports betting, and that will help make up a bit of the $1.6 billion in wagers that have been lost so far,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “The leagues have to stay healthy, though, or we will be right back to where we started.”