New Jersey’s online gambling industry ended 2017 in style, as state-licensed iGaming sites posted monthly revenue of $20.75 million for a 12.9 percent increase year-on-year.
December marked the third straight month of revenue growth, capping off a record-breaking year that saw New Jersey iGaming generate $245.6 million in annual revenue. The figure easily surpassed last year’s annual revenue of $196.7 million, good for a year-on-year gain of 24.9 percent.
When net gaming wins were divided by game type, the casino segment – comprised of table games and slots – was the clear market leader. Casino games accounted for $221.3 million, or more than 90 percent, of the annual revenue haul. With more than $50.1 million in annual revenue added, the casino segment grew by 30.1 percent year-on-year.
On the other side of the coin, poker revenue dropped slightly from $26.5 million in 2016 to $24.2 million last year, down 8.5 percent on the year.
The Golden Nugget licensing group – which includes GoldenNuggetCasino.com, BetfairCasino.com, and PlaySugarHouse.com – was the overwhelming leader in December. Golden Nugget licensees posted $6.08 million in combined monthly revenue, well ahead of the Borgata licensing group (BorgataCasino, BorgataPoker, and PartyPoker among others) at $4.3 million.
The Golden Nugget has dominated New Jersey iGaming since August of 2016, all without an affiliated poker product. Instead, the group rolled out the state’s first Live Dealer table games, which connect players via live stream to human dealers operating genuine casino equipment from within a dedicated onsite studio.
Golden Nugget licensees combined for $68.6 million in annual revenue across 2017 – up an astounding 62.3 percent over 2016 – handily beating out Borgata at $48.5 million (3.2 percent increase year-on-year).
In early 2011, lawmakers in the Garden State voted to authorize regulated iGaming, but Governor Chris Christie rejected the plan as unfeasible under federal law. At the time, the Department of Justice (DOJ) interpreted the Wire Act of 1961 – a federal ban on sports betting via the telephone – loosely enough to apply the law to all forms of online gambling.
That changed in December of 2011, when the DOJ released a memorandum limiting the Wire Act to sports betting only. As a result, individual states were free to legislate iGaming on their own terms, and by 2013 a newly passed bill was signed into law.
By 2014, the industry generated $122.9 million in annual revenue, a figure which has grown by at least 20 percent in every year since. The market’s monthly revenue peaked at $21.7 million in March of 2017.
Given Attorney General Jeff Session’s previously stated opposition to online gambling legalization, and recent attempts to revive the “Restore America’s Wire Act” effort to ban iGaming on the federal level, New Jersey’s political establishment has rallied in bipartisan fashion to save the state’s cash cow.
In a letter sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of the DOJ, New Jersey’s senior U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and nine colleagues representing both sides of the aisle directly referenced the record-setting run of revenue growth:
“Since 2011, New Jersey has enjoyed robust revenues from online gambling.
In fact, 2017 has already shattered records with $200 million in revenue in the first ten months.
This has coincided with a rebirth of Atlantic City. This growth in revenue is in large part due to significant capital investments by the state in online gaming facilities, equipment, and technology that makes online gaming safe and secure.”
With gross gaming revenue taxed at a 15 percent rate, December’s totals sent $3.3 million straight into the state’s coffers. Since the launch of regulated iGaming in 2013, New Jersey has generated $126.6 million in tax revenue.