Online Poker Plays Vital Role in Revitalizing Atlantic City Casinos

Posted on January 16th, 2017 by Daniel Ryder
online poker Atlantic City Jim Murren

Jim Murren’s MGM Resorts owns the Borgata, Atlantic City’s most profitable resort, and the casino’s online poker sites are helping boost the town’s overall bottom line. (Image: Denise Truscello/Getty Images)

Online poker played a critical role in helping Atlantic City’s seven remaining casinos turn a profit for the first time in a decade last year.

Statistics issued by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) last week show that the beachfront gambling town closed 2016 with a total gaming win of $2.6 billion, a 1.5 percent increase compared with 2015. But it was the online casinos, not brick-and-mortar floors, that were most responsible for the reversal.

Internet gaming win came in at $196.7 million over the last 12 months, a massive 32 percent jump year-over-year. As for online poker, peer-to-peer revenues from rake and fee tallied $26.5 million, an 11.3 percent increase.

Without internet gaming, Atlantic City casinos would have posted a 0.3 percent decline, which equates to a loss of about $8.2 million.

“There’s a lot of good news here,” New Jersey Casino Control Commission Chairman Matthew Levinson told the Associated Press. “Internet gambling continues to increase. The hope is we’re entering a stable environment now.”

The $2.6 billion won by Atlantic City casinos is the first year-end number in the black since 2006 when the area took in $5.2 billion. Five resorts have closed since, the most recent being the Trump Taj Mahal in October.

Poker Star

Three casinos in the Garden State offer poker online, and it should come as no surprise that it’s Resorts that is leading the way in the digital card game. The PokerStars internet room has taken control of the New Jersey market, though it remains close with the shared World Series of Poker and 888 network.

According to the latest data from PokerScout, PokerStars New Jersey is averaging 150 players on its most recent weekly average. WSOP/888 is close behind with 140 players, while Borgata’s partypoker network is in third with 80 players.

For 2016, Resorts collected $8.7 million from PokerStars rake and fee. Though that trails Borgata’s $9.2 million, it tops Caesars’ $8.6 million.

Considering PokerStars only officially launched in New Jersey at the end of last March and was short nearly a quarter of a year of operation compared to Borgata, the Amaya-owned network provided more robust gains during the final eight months of 2016.

Borgata Wins Elsewhere

The Borgata is Atlantic City’s best performing land-based casino, and online the Marina District property is also leading the way.

For the 12 months in 2016, Borgata’s online properties, which includes BorgataCasino.com, BorgataPoker.com, NJ.partypoker.com, and PalaCasino.com, pulled in a total of $47 million. That outpaces the Golden Nugget at $42.25 million, Caesars ($38.7 million), Tropicana ($36.8 million), and Resorts ($31.7 million).

While online poker enjoyed its best year to date in New Jersey, general online gaming was an even bigger winner. Excluding poker, revenues for the five operators invested in digital casinos generated a win of $170.2 million, a 36 percent premium on 2015.

With Pennsylvania and New York both considering gaming expansion to online outlets, the future looks bright for internet poker.

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