It was only last November that New Jersey gave the go-ahead for legalized online gambling to its residents, but industrialists are already gathering data and trying to draw conclusions about the new market. According to the Washington Times, Caesars Interactive Entertainment has claimed 31 percent of all online state gamblers so far. For reasons unknown, the lion's share of those gamblers hail from Toms River in Ocean County. Online gaming has been legal in the state less than half a year, and it is unclear whether short-term patterns will lead to long-term gains for online gambling companies. Nevertheless, these patterns are interesting and up for scrutiny.
Caesars Interactive Entertainment: The Company
Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Inc. proclaims itself to be the “largest online, mobile, and social gaming company” on its LinkedIn profile. In addition to owning the World Series of Poker, or WSOP, it partners with Microsoft in creating WSOP games for XBox and governs the successful Playtika division, a branch of the company that originated social games like Bingo Blitz, Bingo Rush, and Slotomania (read here).
The company jumped headlong into online gambling the moment it was legalized in New Jersey. After nearly 100 days of data gathering, administrators hope that the figures they've collected will help them target potential and untapped sources of revenue. The information they've culled represents the number of online visitors to their three sites, CaesarsCasino.com, HarrahsCasino.com, and WSOP.com, from last November through the end of February. The following five cities have supplied the most customers to the company in the past 100 days:
- Most Customers: Toms River in Ocean County. This township is the county seat and home to around 10,000 people. Median income between 2006 – 2010 was over $70,000.
- 2nd Most Customers: Jersey City in Hudson County. This city is the county seat and the largest area in the county, home to over 200,000 people with a median income of slightly over $50,000. Jersey City is famous for being one of the most racially divergent areas in the United States.
- 3rd Most Customers: Cherry Hill in Camden County. Located just eight miles from Philadelphia, this town of about 71,000 boasts a median income of nearly $90,000. This town is also within an hour of Atlantic City, where the state's brick-and-mortar casinos are.
- 4th Most Customers: Hoboken in Hudson County. This town of 50,000 is notable for the devastation it suffered back in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy caused the Hudson River to flood. The median income is slightly over $100,000.
- 5th Most Customers: Brick Township in Ocean County. This township, also known as Bricktown, has a population of approximately 75,000 and is also situated within an hour of Atlantic City. The median family income hovers around $80,000. In 2006, Brick was considered the 5th safest city in the U.S.
Governor Chris Christie and other New Jersey officials were hoping the legalization of online gaming would bring in some much-needed revenue to the state in short order. The results have been less than stellar, however; at this point, online gambling has not proven itself to be a miracle cure for struggling government budgets. Online gambling revenue grew 15 percent from February to March, consistent with the slow-but-sure growth of the market since last fall. Overall online revenue for the month of March was almost $12 billion. Still, Christie and the legislators who pushed for legalization were hoping to incur a much larger jackpot in a much shorter time frame.
Even though Caesars calls itself the “largest” online gaming company in the state, virtual casinos affiliated with Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel, Casino, and Spa have brought in more revenue dollars overall. Virtual gaming affiliated with the Borgata has, in fact, brought in $4.4 million whereas Caesars Interactive has brought in only $3.7 million.
On land, the brick-and-mortar Borgata of Atlantic City won the top money-maker title by bringing in $51.5 in revenue last year. Harrah's boasted an income of $29 million and Caesar's reeled in $24.3 million. On the other end of the spectrum, the Showboat Casino Hotel brought in around $14 million and the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino made just shy of $5 million.
Looking at these figures alone, it would appear that brick-and-mortar casinos are faring better than their virtual counterparts. It must be remembered, however, that legalized online gambling has been in operation for just over three months. To get a truly accurate taste of how well the online gaming industry supplements New Jersey funding, analysts will need to wait a year or more.
Where to Find Out More About Online Gaming in New Jersey
Only residents of New Jersey can gamble legally at the state's approved online sites. Similarly, only Nevada residents can gamble on Nevada's online sites and only Delaware residents can gamble on Delaware's online sites. These are the only three states that currently support legalized online gambling. More are expected to join in the near future.
New Jersey residents who wish to learn more about the state's online program can visit the Office of the Attorney General's webpage. This page includes links to all approved casinos, as well as information about licensing, regulations, and a special voluntary exclusion program which enables residents to put themselves on a “Do Not Serve” list with online casinos as well as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. This program is sponsored by the Council on Compulsive Gambling.
After only 100 days, New Jersey's online gambling trends are interesting yet tentative. Concrete conclusions cannot be definitively drawn about an industry so young. As the online gaming industry evolves, analysts will have a much clearer idea about what works, what doesn't, and where the future of online gaming truly lies.