ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The growth of New Jersey's Internet gambling market slowed somewhat in its third full month of operation, with the Atlantic City gambling websites posting a nearly 9 percent revenue increase in February.
The 16 online gambling sites had posted a 28 percent gain in January, to $9.5 million. In February, the online sites won $10.3 million.
The numbers released Wednesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the market starting to plateau. But Brian Mattingly, CEO of 888 Holdings, which partners with Caesars Entertainment to offer online gambling in New Jersey, is pleased with the fledgling market thus far.
"We are delighted with the way it has started," he said. "All of us got into a good rhythm and started some good marketing. Overall, I'm delighted with where we're at."
New Jersey launched Internet gambling in late November as a way to help the struggling brick-and-mortar casinos. It is one of only three states in the nation to offer online gambling, along with Nevada and Delaware.
Including their online gambling operations, Atlantic City's 11 casinos won $209.4 million in February, a 1.4 percent decline compared to February 2013, when the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel was still open. It shut down in January of this year.
Excluding Internet revenue, the 11 casinos took in just under $200 million in February. That's down 6.2 percent from a year ago, but only 1.5 percent if the Atlantic Club is excluded.
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City posted the biggest monthly gain, up nearly 26 percent, to $12.5 million. The casino has gone aggressively after former Atlantic Club customers, and experienced a surge in business after its shutdown, to the point where it had to sponsor an emergency job fair to hire at least 100 new employees last month.
Revel Casino Hotel ($10.9 million) and the Tropicana Casino and Resort ($19.7 million) each posted a 20.7 percent monthly gain. Resorts Casino Hotel was up 11 percent to $9.7 million, and Caesars Atlantic City was up 5.8 percent to $25.6 million.
February was a cold month for the two Trump Entertainment Resorts casinos. Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was down nearly 25 percent to $3.9 million, and the Trump Taj Mahal Casino resort was down more than 24 percent to $15.6 million.
The Showboat Casino Hotel was down 16.5 percent to $12.2 million; Bally's Atlantic City was down 11.4 percent to $16.6 million; Harrah's Resort Atlantic City was down 5.5 percent to $26.3 million, and even the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa was down 1.6 percent to $45.8 million — a figure that was still the best in the city by a wide margin.
"We were particularly encouraged by the performance of Borgata's online casino site, which achieved month-over-month revenue growth of 36 percent, and more than 50 percent on a per-day basis," said Keith Smith, CEO of Boyd Gaming, which owns half of the Borgata. "Looking ahead, we continue to see significant opportunities for future growth in New Jersey as we refine and enhance our online product."
Atlantic City recently completed its seventh straight year of falling casino revenues — a streak that Internet gambling is intended, in part, to end. The downturn is due mainly to the proliferation of casinos in neighboring states, and was exacerbated by the Great Recession of several years ago, and Superstorm Sandy, which damaged many homes in Atlantic City's prime New Jersey and New York customer markets.
The race for dominance in New Jersey's Internet gambling market remains a contest between the Borgata, with its partypoker brand, and Caesars Interactive, with its 888 and WSOP brands. The Borgata won just over $4 million online in February, while Caesars Interactive won $3.3 million. The Tropicana, with its self-titled and Virgin Casino brands, won $1.3 million online.
The Taj Mahal, with its Ultimate Casino brand, won $587,323; Trump Plaza and its Betfair online affiliate won $493,590, and the Golden Nugget won $460,121 online.
So far for the year, Atlantic City's casinos have won $385 million at land-based games, down 7.7 percent from the same period a year ago. Their online operations have won $19.7 million in the first two months of the year.
Nearly 250,000 online gambling accounts have been created in New Jersey since the state began Internet betting on Nov. 21.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC