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While online gaming and sports betting in New Jersey continues to break records with every turn of the calendar, the same, obviously, can not be said for the physical casino sites, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

For three months (April, May, and June), there was zero gaming allowed in Atlantic City. But the following three months, making up the third fiscal quarter of the year, saw a return to gaming at the oceanside resort. The numbers were not unexpected: based upon filings made with the Division of Gaming Enforcement (Division), the casino licensees reported 3rd quarter 2020 Net Revenue of $629.3 million reflecting a 32.3% decrease and Gross Operating Profit decreased 37.2% to $150.5 million.

Another number that is down from last year, of course, is the occupancy rate of the hotels. For the three months, that rate was 72.9%, while the year so far (excluding the March 16-July 2 state ordered shutdown) was just over 70% (70.6%).

Typically, the second week of November hosts the NJEA Convention, with thousands of teachers heading down for a long weekend of seminars, bonding, and a lot of gambling. But like the rest of 2020 since mid-March, large gatherings of people in smaller spaces are still prohibited, and the convention was held remotely, which basically kills the idea of the whole thing: a break after a few months of school, before the holidays.

It is not just this large convention that has been canceled, though: all of the midweek ones have, which is one of the main reasons that the occupancy rate is down. On the weekends, people are still heading down to the casino, even with 25% occupancy rates and 10 p.m. restaurant closures; but from Tuesday through Thursday, the casinos have been lagging.

Of course, it is not all doom and gloom for the casinos, thanks to record online betting and revenue from sports betting. New Jersey casinos brought in $803 million in October of 2020 alone, with more than 92% of the bets coming from mobile apps. Revenue from the month was $58.5, more than a 26% increase from October 2019.

Incredibly, the 20% increase over the last three months alone, from $667.9 million to $803 million, which has taken the yearly number north of $4 billion, shows no signs of abating. In fact, the records could continue to fall, and we could soon be over $1 billion for a month in total sports betting, a mind boggling number.

It will be interesting to see what the numbers will be once the COVID-19 vaccine starts to be implemented on a widespread scale. Will the online revenue from gaming and sports betting continue to go up at record rates, as more people discover how easy it is to place a bet on their phone? Obviously, the numbers at the brick and mortar casinos should come back once the vaccine is given to a large percentage of the population. But will people eschew Atlantic City for casinos in Pennsylvania? Will they just stay home and play on their phones?

We are in very intriguing times, and it will be interesting to see what happens over the second part of 2021.

If you or anyone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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