That’s right – New Jersey’s online casinos and poker rooms enjoyed a very fruitful holiday season. Following a year of dismal news stories covering everything from Atlantic City’s plight to international poker websites pulling out of the Jersey market, this is one bright spot for the gambling industry in the Garden State. It was also not the only surprise the industry had in store this winter.
“According to a University of Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research study, New Jersey online gaming accounts for over 90% of the legal U.S. online gaming revenue,” David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said in a recent press release summarizing his thoughts about the first year of legal online gambling in New Jersey.
“Although Nevada and Delaware started Internet gaming operations several months before New Jersey, New Jersey’s authorized Internet sites, from January 2014 through October 2014, generated $25 million or 75% of the total Internet poker revenue in the U.S. They also generated $78 million or 98% of all Internet non-poker casino revenue. From the inception of New Jersey’s Internet gaming operations on November 21, 2013 through November 30, 2014, Internet gaming win was $120.5 million.”
New Jersey Online Poker Revenues
All poker websites available to New Jersey players saw a revenue boost in December 2014. PartyPoker NJ and BorgataPoker.com both saw an 11.3% spike in revenues. WSOP.com NJ and 888poker NJ both enjoyed slight more moderate successes with spikes of only 7.8%.
Still, that’s great compared to how they were doing only a month earlier. November 2014 was the worst revenue month on record since online gambling became available to New Jersey players, with only $1.87 million in profits.
In 2015, PokerStars is coming to New Jersey. PokerStars is the world’s largest poker website and the host of the World Championship of Online Poker. As a powerful force in the online poker world, PokerStars brings brand recognition to our state, lending a sense of legitimacy to any remaining skeptics about online gambling’s safety.
Sudden Spike in Gambling Revenue? Why Now?
There’s no way to say for certain why New Jersey’s gambling websites had such a successful month after seeing revenues decline over the previous three months. Maybe the weather had something to do with it? It’s cold out so you’re inside more, reaching for your laptop or tablet for something to do.
Visits to Atlantic City and other shore areas drop every winter, so this might have just been regular Atlantic City gamblers choosing to log in from home instead of braving the cold and icy roads to get to the gaming floors. Lots of employees take time off during December as well, and what better way to escape from familial holiday obligations than finding a quiet spot to play a few hands of blackjack?
Maybe it had something to do with the recent trend of Atlantic City casinos closing – if those regular players’ favorite gaming haunts are closed, they might choose to play from home rather than find a new place to play.
Another theory is that people are playing more because they have more money to play with. Currently, gas prices in New Jersey are hovering around $1.70 per gallon. The last time we saw prices like this, it was 2008. Spending less money at the pumps means more money in New Jersey pockets; more money to spend on online gaming.
A Great Start to 2015
In total, poker websites earned $29 million from New Jersey players in 2014. The online casinos earned a total of $122.9 million.
Online gambling revenues are projected to continue to grow through 2015 as mobile use among players grows. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are also set to be part of the growth of online gambling this year. As casinos and other outlets begin to accept these currencies alongside traditional money systems, consumers will become more comfortable using these currencies and more apt to spend them.
To put it mildly, the gambling industry in New Jersey hasn’t had the easiest year. The spate of casino closings, the disappointing start for its online gambling marketplace, and the constant back and forth in the state legislature about allowing the development of a gaming resort outside of Atlantic City have created a sense of uncertainty for gaming entrepreneurs and gamblers alike.
But this late-2014 spark brought a little bit of hope.
Maybe we’re past the worst of this rough patch and moving toward a better future as a leaner, more efficient industry. Maybe 2015 will be the year that goes down in history as the year of New Jersey’s gaming revival.