You can count New Jersey online poker as one of the few industries thriving as a result of COVID-19. The Garden State’s poker sites raked in record monthly revenue last month due to poker players being stuck at home.
In March, New Jersey’s three poker sites collected a combined $3,629,112 in rake. That surpasses the previous monthly record (January 14) of $3.4 million. This can all be attributed to the closures of live poker rooms in Atlantic City and the neighboring Philadelphia, PA area.
New Jersey online poker revenue doubled last month compared to February’s more typical $1.8 million take. Casinos in the Garden State closed down in mid-March. More than 26,000 workers are out of a job in Atlantic City, and the New York Post estimates the state is losing $540 million per month due to the casino closures. But the internet poker scene is greatly benefiting from the pandemic.
New Jersey Online Poker Gets Much Needed Boost
There haven’t been many positives to the current global health crisis. In the US, more than 55,000 people have died from the coronavirus, and another 930,000 are confirmed to have contracted the virus. But the New Jersey online poker market is reaping the rewards of millions of people being locked inside their homes.
New Jersey is one of just four states with legal poker sites in operation — joining Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. But the internet poker industry in the state hasn’t thrived like many expected when the poker sites first launched in 2013.
In March 2019, the Garden State’s poker sites accounted for $1.9 million in rake. That’s barely half the $3.6 million they brought in last month. Caesars Interactive, which owns WSOP.com, was the top beneficiary of the coronavirus lock-down, taking in $1,643,153. Resorts Digital Gaming’s revenue hit $1,160,875, while Borgata took in $825,084 in revenue.
Caesars has an advantage over the NJ competition being that its WSOP.com site has a shared liquidity deal with its Nevada platform. Due to COVID-19, WSOP.com is currently offering unusually large guaranteed prize pools and the site has recently seen a 200-percent — sometimes higher — traffic spike. When poker players can’t get action in the casinos, they turn to internet gambling.
When Will Revenue Boost End?
Once the Atlantic City and Philadelphia casinos resume operations, it’s likely the New Jersey online poker sites will see a decline in traffic. But it’s anyone’s guess as to when that date will come.
New Jersey currently has approximately 110,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, second most in the US. Among those infected, 5,938 have died from complications. New York, NJ’s neighboring state, leads the country with over 290,000 infected and 22,275 dead. Until those numbers begin dropping significantly, suffice to say the casinos will remain closed.
White House coronavirus task-force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said social distancing will remain the norm “through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases.” It’s tough to ensure safe social distancing at a packed casino or poker room.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said at his press conference on Saturday said the curve is flattening, but warns that “we need to see more progress and more slowing before we can begin implementing any effort to get ourselves on the road to the new normal that awaits our state.” Translation: don’t make any plans to hit up the casinos in NJ any time soon.