New Jersey’s Internet gambling revenue down in May

ATLANTIC CITY — Internet gambling has hit a wall in New Jersey just six months after launching.

Figures released Thursday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the casinos’ online operations took in $10.4 million in May, a decline of $1 million from April. Internet gambling revenues have now declined for two straight months in New Jersey.

But there was some good news in the numbers: Including Internet gambling revenue, and excluding the Atlantic Club, which closed in January, the casinos’ total revenue was up nearly 1.3 percent.

The 11 brick-and-mortar casinos took in $232.3 million, a decline of 8.2 percent compared to May 2013, when the Atlantic Club was still open. Not counting the Atlantic Club, which closed in January, Atlantic City’s casinos posted a 3.1 percent revenue decline compared to a year earlier. Those figures do not include Internet revenue.

Internet gambling began in late November as a way to bring new money and customers to Atlantic City’s casinos, which continue to struggle in the cutthroat northeastern gambling market.

Since the launch, the casinos have won about $61.9 million online — a far cry from the pace some state political leaders expected. Gov. Chris Christie, who had estimated they would rake in $1 billion in its first year. Many Wall Street analysts have since reduced their own estimates to the $200 million to $300 million range, but even those forecasts may need to be adjusted downward.

The Borgata, which has led the online industry since it launched in late November, experienced its first online revenue decline in May, falling slightly to just over $4 million, but it still has more than 38 percent of the online market. Its closest competitor, Caesars Interactive, took in nearly $2.8 million online, down from just over $3 million a month earlier.

The Tropicana won nearly $1.9 million online, down from $2.1 million in April; Trump Plaza fell from $926,278 in April to $677,453 in May; the Trump Taj Mahal went from $609,450 in April to $497,728 in May, and the Golden Nugget increased slightly, from $575,914 in April to $610,949 in May.

The Golden Nugget had the biggest monthly revenue increase among brick-and-mortar casinos, going from $9.6 million a year ago to $16.3 million in May, an increase of 70 percent. The Tropicana was up 20 percent to $25.1 million, and Revel was up 4.2 percent to $11.6 million.

The decline in online revenue came even as more people went online to gamble in New Jersey. As of the end of May, 351,136 Internet gambling accounts had been created, up nearly 9 percent from April.

Seven casinos saw monthly revenue declines, led by Caesars, which had an extremely unlucky month at table games. Its revenue fell from $32.5 million in May 2013 to $18.3 million, a decline of nearly 44 percent.

Matt Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, noted that without the Atlantic Club and including Internet gambling revenues, total gambling revenue increased by 1.3 percent, and would have been higher without an unlucky month at table games.

“The amount of money changed into chips at the tables, which is the drop, was up 0.4 percent in May, and that’s a very positive sign and an indicator of increased gaming activity,” he said. “We all know how fickle Lady Luck can be, and last month she favored the players a lot more and the casinos won a lot less at the tables.”

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