The original fear was that online casinos would kill the land-based versions. As it turns out - at least in Atlantic City - the online casinos are one of the only reasons why the land-based ones are still alive.
Atlantic City was known as one of the pillars of the gambling industry, but ever since Hurricane Sandy hit the boardwalk has never quite recovered. However, last year was the first year in a decade that Atlantic City saw growth and it was only because of the online action.
Five Atlantic City casinos have closed since 2013 but the good news is that New Jersey is one of three states along with Delaware and Nevada that have legalized online gambling. As a result, the land-based shops are taking full advantage of it.
The rule is that these online casinos have to be a part of an actual land-based casino, so casinos such as Borgata (Borgata, PartyPoker and Pala are their online poker and casino sites) and Golden Nugget (Golden Nugget, Betfair, SugarHouse), as well as others, have partnered up with other companies and they're reaping the benefits. Borgata, which is now part of MGM Resorts International, has taken in over $126 million (in overall gaming) so far just in 2017. That is 5.6% more than what they reported at this time in 2016.
While Borgata is leading the way overall, the Tropicana and Resorts are catching up in the online gaming sector. Resorts has partnered with PokerStars and then went live a few months into 2016. PokerStars, one of the industry leaders when it comes to online poker, has helped them cut into Borgata's lead for now. When you look at the numbers, it is actually Golden Nugget that has been moving up the fastest right now as they're up a whopping 76.9% year over year with online gaming. Caesars is in second at 20.4% and Tropicana is up 6.6%.
It will be interesting to see if Borgata can hold their lead but Golden Nugget is expected to continue to rise. Their climb has been impressive as they still don't offer peer-to-peer poker, which is one of the most popular choices in the online casinos (Tropicana also doesn't offer it yet). Originally, Golden Nugget had partnered with Amaya in 2013 to bring online poker to their customers, but that site never launched.
It's ironic to see that online gaming is the crutch that Atlantic City's land-based casinos now stand on. We still see so many land-based casinos across the country - especially Las Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson - fighting online gaming and betting because they view it as the enemy that will take away business from them. As it turns out, it might be another source of revenue that helps the casinos boost their bottom line.