A record-breaking January for New Jersey gambling, even as in-person casino winnings fall

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Four major gambling revenue records were smashed in New Jersey in January as 2024 got off to a rousing start for everything except the thing casinos care about most: the amount of money won from in-person gamblers.

Internet gambling revenue, sports betting revenue, the total amount of money wagered on sports, and total casino-sports betting-internet revenue all set new records in January, according to figures released Friday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

The total amount won by Atlantic City’s nine casinos, the three horse tracks that take sports bets, and their online partners was more than $559 million, up 28% from a year earlier.

Much of that was powered by a historic month of internet gambling ($183 million, up nearly 20% from a year ago) and sports betting (nearly $171 million, up more than 136%).

However, those revenue streams must be shared with third-party providers, including tech platforms and sports books, and that money is not solely for the casinos to keep. That is why the casinos consider their core business to be money won from in-person gamblers.

Harsher winter weather in January 2024 contributed to in-person casino winnings that were lower than January 2023, when the weather was milder, said Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, which studies the Atlantic City casino market.

“It’s likely brick-and-mortar activity was diverted to online channels, boosting the internet gaming and online sports betting totals,” she said.

The in-person total continues to decline, still lagging the levels seen before the COVID19 pandemic began in early 2020. In January, in-person casino winnings were just over $205 million, down 3.1% from a year earlier.

Collectively, that was higher than the total won from in-person gamblers in January 2019.

But it was due mainly to the strong performance of Atlantic City’s three newest casinos: the Borgata, Hard Rock and Ocean, which were the only three to win more from in-person gamblers in January than they did four years earlier. That means two-thirds of Atlantic City’s nine casinos are still not winning as much in-person money as they did before the pandemic hit.

“The success of online gaming and sports wagering continues to provide competitive advantage to operators even during Atlantic City’s traditional off-season,” said James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

New Jersey’s casinos and tracks took $1.71 billion worth of sports bets in January, smashing the previous record of $1.62 billion set in November.

The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, near New York City, won $113 million on sports bets, up 137% from a year ago. Monmouth Park in Oceanport, near the Jersey Shore, won nearly $2.4 million, up 8.5%, while Freehold Raceway lost over $1 million on sports bets compared to a $1.6 million win a year earlier.

In terms of combined in-person, internet and sports betting revenue, the Borgata took in $107.6 million, up 1.6%. Golden Nugget won $63.5 million, up over 23%; Hard Rock won $51.5 million, up 19%; Ocean won $39.1 million, up more than 13%, and Tropicana won $26.1 million, up 4.5%.

Bally’s won $18.9 million, up 15.3%; Harrah’s won $16.5 million, down 17.5%; Caesars won $15.1 million, down 7.6%; and Resorts won $10.8 million, down less than 1%.

Resorts Digital, the casino’s online arm, won $89.5 million, up over 69%, and Caesars Interactive NJ, another internet-only entity, won $5.7 million, down over 30%.

When just in-person winnings are counted, Borgata won $57.6 million, down 1.2%; Hard Rock won $37.3 million, up 3.9%; Ocean won just over $33 million, up 8.3%; Harrah’s won $15.9 million, down nearly 21%; Caesars won $15.5 million, down nearly 8%; and Tropicana won $13.3 million, down over 18%.

Golden Nugget won $11.2 million from in-person gamblers, up 2.3%; Resorts won $10.9 million, down 1.4%; and Bally’s won $10 million, down nearly 13%.

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Follow Wayne Parry on X, formerly Twitter, at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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