New Jersey’s gambling sector is approaching pre-COVID levels

According to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement regular monthly report, the state’s gambling industry saw steady growth in August, but financial results indicate a slowdown from the second quarter. Despite the waning momentum, The Garden State’s gaming industry is still on its way to pre-pandemic numbers.

August marked a 10.1% increase in total gaming revenue compared to 2021, reaching $470.7 million in total gaming revenue. Although positive, the most recent financial results indicate a slowdown in the industry from the 14.1% year-over-year growth in the second quarter.

Gamblers continued to prefer land-based casinos, which generated $274.0 million in profits for an annual increase of 4.4%. The sum is still lower than the $286 million of 2019, but marks substantial progress towards recovery. Five of the state’s nine casinos reported growth, with Bogata leading with $72.0 million, up more than 38% from a year ago. Hard Rock, Ocean Casino, Resorts and Bally’s also managed to stay in the green. The other four remaining sites were not so lucky. Profits at Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana fell by double digits. Golden Nugget had the worst performance, dropping 18.6%.

The iGaming segment brought in $131.4 million for New Jersey operators and saw an impressive 16.1% increase. Although still far behind land-based casinos, the huge difference in growth could herald a shift in customer sentiment.

Casino sports betting results also impressed with a 24.8% year-over-year increase for a revenue increase of $24.7 million. The state’s three official racetracks added another $37.8 million, bringing New Jersey’s sports betting revenue to a respectable $65.3 million.

Land-based casinos remain at the center of concerns

State officials commented on the August financial results. New Jersey Casino Control Board Chairman James Plousis said the summer had been great for the region and would provide a much-needed boost. Despite the growing popularity of iGaming, the state continues to focus on bolstering its land-based casinos. The reasoning behind this decision is that casinos sometimes only keep 30% of profits from online gambling and sports betting, making unofficial statistics unreliable in determining each sector’s contribution to the state.

Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute, told the Associated Press that the shift to iGaming isn’t necessarily at the expense of land-based establishments.

A decrease in reliance on exclusively in-person gambling activity has the potential to keep New Jersey’s casino industry…more resilient to market disruptions…

Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at the University of Stockton

Bokunewicz added that the move to iGaming could benefit casinos, as many customers enjoy online and in-person betting.

The outlook looks uncertain

Although August marks a slowdown in revenue growth, state officials remain confident that the gambling industry will soon rebound to pre-pandemic levels. Despite a weaker performance than previous months, the industry is maintaining much-needed momentum.

The continued efforts of New Jersey’s gaming industry have certainly had a positive influence, but the true state of the industry is still uncertain. The fall financial reports will show whether the lull in revenue growth is a one-time event or the start of a worrying trend.

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