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NJ Sport again bets over $1B; Casino lags behind pre-pandemic levels

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ ( Associated Press) – New Jersey’s strong sports betting market broke the $1 billion mark in terms of bet amount for the sixth time last month.

But the news was bad for seven out of nine casinos in March, which were lagging their in-person gambling revenue levels before the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to data released Monday by state gambling regulators.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reported the state’s casinos and Three Horse Tracks placing more than $1.12 billion of such bets in March, aided by the March Madness college basketball tournament.

Yet of that total, only $66.4 million was earmarked by Casino & Track as sports betting revenue, after paying winning bets, third-party partners, and other expenses.

Casino & Track generated $423.6 million in gambling and sports betting revenue in March, up about 18% from a year earlier.

However, this comparison is flawed because in March 2021, Atlantic City casinos were still operating under state-imposed pandemic-related restrictions. Going back two years is also an invalid comparison as casinos closed in mid-March 2020 basically as the pandemic escalated.

Casino officials say 2019 is the most telling comparison given the period before the pandemic began. The casino won $382.9 million in total gambling revenue in March, which includes sports betting and internet gambling, compared to $273.7 million in 2019.

Still, casino officials say those numbers are less than sports betting and Internet money, most of which casinos don’t get to keep after paying partners and expenses.

They say that a more obvious comparison is the individual gambling revenues won from gamblers inside the casino. And in that comparison, seven out of nine casinos are behind their pre-pandemic levels.

The nine casinos collectively won $216.6 million from individual gamblers in March this year, compared to $223.1 million in March 2019.

Only two casinos – Hard Rock and Ocean – are now winning more on their premises than before the pandemic. Hard Rock won $39.3 million from in-person gamblers in March, up nearly 60% from 2019, and Ocean won $25.4 million, a 67% increase over the same period.

“Atlantic City’s market was down 3% compared to 2019, with seven of the nine properties collectively down 17%, with only Hard Rock and Ocean increasing,” said Hard Rock President Joe Lupo. “While the market is still struggling to return from pre-pandemic volumes, we are very excited as we look forward to a great summer in Atlantic City.”

Borgata had more than $106 million in total gambling revenue in March, more than double that of its nearest rival, Hard Rock, which had nearly $46 million.

But in terms of gambling revenues individually, the difference is much smaller, with Borgata winning roughly $55 million compared to $39.3 million for Hard Rock.

Jan Bokuniewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University, who studied the Atlantic City gambling market, noted the dichotomy between total gambling revenue, which is growing with the help of Internet and sports betting, and individual casino winnings, which do not aggregate. Is.

“With such a strong start to the year, we have every reason to, barring yet unforeseen complications, expect 2022 to set new near-term records for total annual gross gaming revenue,” she said. “However, operators may still struggle to gain ground on pre-pandemic 2019 in terms of brick-and-mortar gaming revenue.”

For the first three months of this year, Atlantic City’s casinos have won nearly $1.1 billion in total revenue. But only $612 million of that was won by in-person gamblers.

She also noted that casino employment is lagging behind pre-pandemic levels, as casinos compete with each other for additional labor coupled with the busy summer season.

New Jersey’s internet gambling market grew nearly 24% to $140.6 million in March from a year earlier.

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Follow Wayne Perry on Twitter twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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