The year 2020 is here are there is sure to be a lot of major stories over the next 12 months. For now, here are some of the major New Jersey casino stories from 2019.
Caesars and Eldorado strike $17.3b merger deal
One of the biggest stories in the New Jersey casino industry was the proposed merger between Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts. In July of last year, Eldorado announced that the company had agreed to fork over $17.3 billion in cash and bonds to buy out Caesars.
Even though it is the beginning of 2020 the deal is not yet finalized, as both federal and New Jersey regulators have to approve the merger. If it is approved, as expected, then the merger would be the biggest in the US gaming industry. The Caesars name would remain at the firm’s four Atlantic City casino properties – Harrah’s, Tropicana, Caesars, and Bally’s – and the new company would have around 60 properties in the United States.
Regulators in New Jersey have an issue, as they are under the belief that the merger may bring about “undue economic concentration” in the Atlantic City casino industry. The merger is expected to be finalized in the beginning of 2020, but it is not a done deal and not without its detractors.
Ocean Casino Resort turns things around
At first the Ocean Casino Resort was called the Ocean Resort Casino and it was bleeding money to the tune of losing $270 million over the first seven months of operation. To say things did not look good would be an understatement. However, Ocean turned things around after the Luxor Capital Group took over the joint in January and changed the name.
Some $70 million was pumped into the property, and about $50 million of that was used to settle outstanding debts. The remaining $20 million was used for upgrades to the property such as new restaurants, improved entertainment, and newly constructed elevators that went straight from hotel room floors to the casino. There were also new casino promotions as well as the WOW Player Rewards program.
The public gave the thumbs up right off the bat and the once-struggling property became very popular. Ocean Casino Resort made $10 million in the third quarter of 2019, which was the first time the property had turned a quarterly profit.
New Jersey takes on Nevada for US sports betting crown
New Jersey was the driving force behind the campaign to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May of 2018. Until that time, Nevada was the only state in the USA that had legal sports betting.
The overturning of the PASPA allowed for legal sports betting in the US on a state-by-state basis. New Jersey took no time to jump on that possibility, as the Monmouth Park sportsbook and Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa sportsbook started to take legal wagers in mid-June of 2018.
Since then, the NJ sports betting industry has gone from strength to strength. Monthly wagering revenues in 2019 were in line with those of Nevada, occasionally eclipsing the Silver State. Can NJ take the crown in 2020?
New Jersey online casinos enjoy solid growth
Online casino gambling has been legal in the Garden State since 2013, but 2019 was the biggest year for the industry. Revenue and handle records for NJ online casinos tumbled month after month.
Eric Ramsey, who is an online gaming analyst for PlayNJ.com, stated about that growth, “Six years in, and it’s clear that online casinos have been a win across the board in New Jersey. Not only do online casinos continue to increase revenue at a breathtaking pace; they have built a symbiotic relationship with online sports betting. Online sportsbooks and casinos are helping to fuel each other’s growth.”