Atlantic City casinos collected almost $3 billion in revenue in 2022, improving on their 2021 total by 9%. While that’s almost twice what New Jersey online casino and online poker platforms collected in 2022, online gambling flipped the script in a different measurement.
Online casino apps grew by over 21% from 2021 to 2022. If the trend continues, online gambling could someday be as valuable if not more than in-person play in New Jersey. That might prompt some changes to gaming law in the state.
Atlantic City casinos keep more cash in 2022
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released its revenue report for December 2022 and thus closed the book for the whole year. All nine Atlantic city properties combined to hold $2.79 billion for 2022, up 9% on 2021’s $2.55 billion.
Atlantic City casinos also outperformed their 2019 numbers in 2022. In 2019, they won $2.68 billion, or about 4% less than 2022’s total. Brick-and-mortar casinos strongly outperformed their online counterparts in the state, too.
Total win for online casino and online poker play for 2022 came to $1.66 billion. However, the conversation changes when you look at the rate of expansion versus the bottom line.
New Jersey online casinos continue torrid pace
That $1.66 billion in online casino win represents an increase of 21.6% compared to 2021’s $1.37 billion. 2022’s performance kept the market on a furious growth pace, as 2021 was up 29.2% compared to 2020. The following are previous years’ numbers:
- 2020 – $970.3 million (50.3% increase from 2019 to 2020)
- 2019 – $482.7 million (40% increase from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 – $289.7 million (15.3% increase from 2017 to 2018)
- 2017 – $245.6 million
For the last five year-over-year comparisons, New Jersey online casino revenue has increased by an average of 31.28%. It’s difficult to assume they will continue that pace moving forward, however.
The last five years have seen the launches of numerous new online casino platforms in New Jersey. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic limited the availability of in-person gaming in New Jersey, creating an incentive for players to take their play online.
The gradual decline of the rate of growth from 2020’s 50.3% to the current 21.6% represents the maturation of the market and a regression to the norm in this situation. Regardless, it’s theoretically possible that online casino revenue could surpass physical gaming at some point.
Could online slots and table games be the revenue champs?
Simply assuming a modest annual growth rate of 18% for online casino revenue, it’s theoretically possible in New Jersey. That’s a very simple assumption, however.
Sustaining even that growth will require several things to go according to plan. There are many variables in the situation. For example, there could be some contraction in the market due to acquisitions or operators simply pulling out.
It’s difficult to assume that operators will continue to invest their resources in marketing themselves at the same level moving forward as well. Instead, online casino platforms might scale back their ad spending and promotional offerings.
Just for the sake of argument, though, suppose there did come a year in which New Jersey online casino play was worth more than gambling at Atlantic City casinos. That wouldn’t necessarily mean those casinos would hit panic buttons.
Would Atlantic City casinos shut it all down?
Technically, New Jersey could reconsider the legal status of online casinos and online poker play. The law has a sunset date for this type of gambling if online casinos start cannibalizing their Atlantic City counterparts.
However, that comes down to perspective as well as numbers. To perceive the situation that way, Atlantic City casino operators would have to be convinced of a few things:
- A downturn in physical casino revenue is directly caused by patrons choosing to play online instead
- Limiting or taking away online play would drive those guests back to Atlantic City
- Enhanced in-person play would surpass the effect of giving up their portion of online casino revenue
So far, there’s no indication that Atlantic City casinos view their physical poker, slots, and table games as competing with the online casino platforms operating under their licenses. The general perception is that they are complementary revenue channels, not adversarial.
Additionally, in-person gambling in New Jersey is growing. It just hasn’t been expanding at the same rate as online gambling. There’s more history there, however, and the market for brick-and-mortar casinos in New Jersey is far more mature.
The bottom line is that there’s no reason why Atlantic City casinos have to choose between these revenue streams. They can celebrate the growth of both.