Internet gambling again helps Atlantic City casinos

Once again, internet gambling has made the difference between an up month and a down one for Atlantic City casinos.

Figures released Monday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show the seven casinos won $205.3 million from gamblers in February. That's an increase of 0.3 percent from February 2016.

But without the extra money won from gamblers, the casinos would have posted a decrease of nearly 2 percent.

Resorts Digital (up 131 percent compared with a year ago) and the Golden Nugget (up 66 percent) had particularly good months online.

Rush Street Interactive runs one of the Golden Nugget's sites, playsugarhouse.com , which has been growing its revenue by about 25 percent a month since launching last September.

"Online gaming represents a growth vehicle for the gaming industry as it attracts a new and younger demographic," said Richard Schwartz, Rush Street's president. "Plus, industry data shows that existing brick-and-mortar casino players, who subsequently become online players too, return more frequently to the brick-and-mortar casino and spend 15 percent more on the casino floor."

Schwartz said he expects further growth in New Jersey's online gambling market in 2017, particularly as it becomes easier for players to deposit money to fund online betting accounts.

New Jersey's market took in $18.7 million in February, an increase of nearly 27 percent over the same month last year.

In February, the Golden Nugget surged to the head of New Jersey's online market with $5.1 million in revenue. The Borgata, Caesars Interactive-NJ, Resorts Digital and the Tropicana were all bunched together within $3 million to $3.7 million last month.

The seven surviving Atlantic City casinos won $186.6 million within the walls of their gambling halls, an increase of 4.9 percent from a year ago.

If the Trump Taj Mahal, which shut down in October, was removed from the equation, the seven surviving casinos would have seen an overall revenue increase of 6.6 percent last month. Hard Rock International recently bought the casino and plans to reopen it in 2018.

"The current operators continue to show resiliency in a challenging gaming market and have been able to increase the New Jersey gaming market," said Matt Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

The Tropicana was up 25.5 percent to $31.5 million; Resorts was up 21.4 percent to $15.1 million; the Golden Nugget was up 15.2 percent to $21.5 million; Caesars was up 0.9 percent to $22.8 million; and Harrah's was up 0.5 percent to $29.5 million.

Bally's was down 4.7 percent to $16.3 million and the Borgata was down 1.5 percent to $61.9 million.

For the first two months of the year, Atlantic City's revenue is up nearly 4 percent from the same period last year.


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