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NJ casinos, tracks win $264M in July after virus reopening

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – New Jersey’s casinos and horse tracks won $264.5 million in July after reopening amid the coronavirus outbreak, a figure that was down nearly 21% from a year ago, but one the gambling houses will gladly take after months of inactivity.

Figures released Wednesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement reflect the first month of resumed operations – albeit at 25% of normal capacity – that the casinos and tracks were permitted to undertake.

Internet gambling revenue more than doubled in July to $87.4 million, and sports betting revenue was $29.5 million, up 65% over July 2019 levels, with sports including baseball, basketball and hockey resuming their seasons late in the month.

“Even with public health precautions in place, there was great concern that patrons would not yet feel safe visiting the casinos in person, and there would be an extended `COVID drag´ on the industry,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of a gambling and tourism institute at Stockton University. She said the revenue figures show “that a significant number of gamblers were willing to play in person. Whether this recovery could continue and grow will likely depend on the status of COVID-19 infection rates in the tri-state area and consumer confidence in industry safety measures.”

James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said “While public health remains a concern, the tourism and gaming sector has started on the road to recovery. I know that Atlantic City is resilient and, given time, it will rebound.”

Just two of the nine casinos won more in July than they did a year ago. The Ocean Casino Resort won $26.2 million, up 30.3%, and the Golden Nugget won $40.3 million, up nearly 17%. Hard Rock won over $31 million, down nearly 24%.

Ocean was the only casino to increase its in-person casino floor winnings in July, which rose over 23% to $23.6 million.

After being shut down by order of Gov. Phil Murphy on March 16, the casinos got the go-ahead to begin opening on July 2. Many resumed operations on that day or within a few days. Only the Borgata, while scrambling to line up additional outdoor dining options, chose to open later. It fully reopened on July 26, three days after an invitation-only “soft opening.”

But internet gambling and sports betting, which had continued uninterrupted amid the shutdown of the physical casino property, helped Borgata to $26.6 million for the month. That was down nearly 70% from a year ago, but was still good enough to rank the casino third in Atlantic City.

Tropicana won nearly $22.5 million, down nearly 32% from a year earlier; Harrah’s won $21.1 million, down over 29%; and Caesars won $18.2 million, down nearly 27%.

Bally’s won $14.6 million, down nearly 20%, and Resorts won nearly $12 million, down over 34%.

More than $315 million was wagered on sports in New Jersey in July, up from the $251 million wagered on sports a year earlier.

After paying out winning bets, the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford made $14 million in sports betting revenue in July, up from $9 million a year earlier. Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport made nearly $1.7 million, down from $1.9 million a year earlier.

For online-only entities, Caesars Interactive NJ won $9.6 million in July, up more than 90% from a tear earlier, and Resorts Digital won $26.1 million, up from $10.5 million a year ago.

For the first seven months of 2020, the casinos and tracks have made nearly $1.3 billion in revenue, down by nearly a third from the $1.9 billion they had won over the first seven months of last year.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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