Driven Online: New Jersey online casinos pass $2 billion in revenue; land-based venues still in trouble
New Jersey’s legal gambling market is on the rise once more after several months of shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With Borgata Casino, Hotel & Spas becoming the last of Atlantic City’s big guns to finally reopen last month, casinos in the city made just shy of $150 million in July.
That sounds OK, but it still represents a 47% fall on last July’s revenue. It’s a catastrophic plunge under normal circumstances, but not too bad considering just a few months ago casino floor revenues were zero.
Atlantic City’s results have been bolstered by the relatively low spread of the pneumonia-causing virus in the state, as well as its legal online market.
Such an income stream has been the envy of many other US gambling hubs that lack legal online casino gaming as a buffer.
So far this year, NJ online gambling firms have earned their operators nearly $510 million. That’s nearly double what they had pulled in by this time in 2019. About $87.5 million of that was online casino gaming – which still gets lumped in with poker despite being by far the bigger draw right now.
Collectively, the NJ online gambling market even passed the $2 billion income mark in July.
New Jersey’s Casinos on a Slow Return
However, this slow return to normality and profitability hasn’t been such good news for everyone.
Research released this week by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has shown that Atlantic City casinos have 4,000 fewer employees now than the 25,141 workers they had on payroll in July last year.
That figure may not even show the worst of it yet, either.
“We may only be down about 5,000 [jobs], but there’s a lot more than 5,000 who aren’t working,”Local casino union leader Bob McDevitt
He’s not wrong. Over 50% of those 25,000 remaining employees are currently on furlough.
This means relying on a lower government support payment of just $3-600 in many cases. Some casinos are covering their furloughed employees’ health insurance, and some are paying half wages.
Sadly, though, many of those job positions are either off the table or severely reduced because of coronavirus restrictions.
For example, the Borgata (the city’s biggest employer) delayed reopening for nearly a month so it could arrange ways to safely serve food and drink without violating new state guidelines.
Other restrictions include a 25% capacity limit, which obviously lowers the number of employees needed on-site.
“I don’t want to cry. I want to be strong around my kids, and I don’t want to look like a victim. But we need to get back to work,” one furloughed employee told NBC Philadelphia last month.
Online Driving the Market
Despite these difficulties, furloughed Atlantic City casino workers can at least be thankful their future may be a little more secure than those working in Las Vegas.
Clark County, Nevada, home of the US’s most famous gambling destination, has seen over 8,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far in August. That’s more than Atlantic County has seen throughout the entire pandemic period.
Las Vegas also lacks New Jersey’s online presence, further compounding the loss of revenue from lower visitor numbers.
“It will take some time before Atlantic City rebounds from the closures of the last few months. However, online casinos and sportsbooks should drive the overall market as long as the pandemic continues,” market analyst Dustin Gouker told PR News Wire.
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