New Jersey Gambling Industry’s Eventful Year Continues with Massive Sports Betting Expansion

The US Supreme Court struck down a long-existing federal ban on sports betting in mid-May to finally give the green light to a big change to the nation’s gambling industry at a time when it seemed that little was happening in the US gambling space.

The SCOTUS ruling that lifted the 1992 PASPA ban on betting on professional and amateur sports unleashed a wave of legislative proposals for the legalization of sports betting in a number of states. And besides Nevada, where sports betting was legal even before the mid-May annulment of the long-standing ban, New Jersey and Mississippi have been the first to go live with sports betting products for their residents. A plethora of states are expected to join in the coming months and thus take part in the formation of what has previously been estimated to be a market with the potential to be worth over $150 billion.

It is important to point out that it was namely New Jersey that filed the sports betting lawsuit in the nation’s highest ranking court and that it has been very consistent in its effort to bring an end to the PASPA era. And it was the first state following the SCOTUS ruling to take advantage of the reformed status quo.

Sports betting operations commenced in two New Jersey properties on June 14, or precisely a month after the ban was lifted. Once holding the monopoly over the provision of casino-style gaming on America’s East Coast, New Jersey’s gambling industry suffered a major blow when neighboring states began opening their own casino properties. The growing competition and the heavy aftermath of the Great Recession culminated in the closure of five Atlantic City casinos in the period between 2014 and 2016.

Signs of stabilization have popped on the horizon and now the state is looking to take the best advantage of them with the expansion of both its casino sector and its sports gambling industries. Aside from the launch of sports betting operations across several gambling properties, New Jersey and Atlantic City saw the opening of two new casino resorts in June that are hoped to help the casino city restore at least some of the luster it had during its the three-decade East Coast reign.

New Casinos

After nearly two years of being home to just seven operating casinos, Atlantic City saw its gaming scene expanded with two more venues. And the two opened on the same day this past June. Hard Rock International brought down Trump Taj Mahal’s iconic minarets to make room for what now operates as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, while Colorado businessman Bruce Deifik finally reopened the former Revel as Ocean Resort Casino. Both properties had their grand opening on June 28 and are hoped to boost Atlantic City’s gambling and entertainment offering and attract a new and diverse wave of customers.

Sights are set on the two casino resorts, but it is yet to be seen whether they will be able to meet the many expectations of everyone involved in New Jersey’s gambling industry. The state Gaming Enforcement Division is yet to publish information about the local casinos’ performance in July, which is the first full month of operation for both Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean, but it can be said that both properties performed quite well during their first few days between June 28-30.

Hard Rock’s property, the renovation of which cost half a billion dollars to its owner, generated revenue of $4,177,295 during its first three days, including $5,569 from its online casino. Ocean, which Mr. Deifik bought from Florida developer Glenn Straub for $200 million and invested another $200 million to renovate and prepare for opening, reported revenue of $3,200,371, including revenue from its sports book totaling $192,671.

Ocean launched its online casino in mid-July with a platform by London-based provider GAN. With that the number of Atlantic City’s online gaming sites reached 18. New Jersey is home to around 9 million people, which means that competition in the iGaming space is fierce. It is yet to be seen whether Hard Rock and Ocean will be able to gain larger share in that particular field, but they will certainly face serious hurdles in their efforts, particularly Ocean which is yet to establish itself as a brand. And the same goes for the two properties’ land-based operations.

New Jersey’s Sports Betting Scene

New Jersey lawmakers passed a legislation authorizing the provision of sports betting at brick-and-mortar facilities and through online and mobile channels days after the historic SCOTUS ruling. And it was not long after that the state’s casinos and racetracks launched their betting offering, the result from their partnerships with major global sports betting players.

The Borgata Casino and the Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport were the first to go live with their sports betting operations. Both venues launched their offering on June 14. Ocean joined the state’s betting scene with a sports book upon its grand opening on June 28. The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford and Bally’s and Harrah’s in Atlantic City were the next to launch their own betting operations.

Resorts, known to be the oldest Boardwalk casino, announced last week a duo of deals with major companies that would see it boost its existing offering with sports betting activities. The venue will be working with The Stars Group, owner of PokerStars and BetStars, and DraftKings to provide customers with the newly legalized type of service.

In fact, it was namely DraftKings that took the first mobile bet in the Garden State. That happened last week when the Boston-based company, widely known for its daily fantasy sports offering, launched its mobile app for New Jersey residents. It is still in a test period and bettors need an invitation in order to be able to place bets, but it will not be long before it is fully functional. MGM, owner of the Borgata, has said that the casino would too start accepting mobile bets soon.

William Hill operates the sports book at Ocean, while it has emerged that Hard Rock had struck a partnership with bet365 for the operation of sports betting. It is yet to be announced when the company’s Atlantic City casino would go live with its betting offering.

July revenue figures are yet to be uploaded by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, but June data shows that the state’s three betting operations generated revenue of $3,458,668 and handle (total bets placed) of $16,409,619. Monmouth was leading the way with betting revenue of $2,279,166, followed by the Borgata with $986,831. Ocean’s sports book generated $192,671 during its first three days of operation.

While it is still too early, officials at the properties were generally happy with the performance of their newly launched betting operations. Sports betting has a great potential in the US due to enormous following different sports have across the nation, but it is yet to be seen how the industry will develop in the states where it is legal or will be legalized, New Jersey included.

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