The Closure of Atlantic City Casinos Puts Question to Online Gaming Operators The Closure of Atlantic City Casinos Puts Question to Online Gaming Operators
Marco Bellucci, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Two upcoming closures of Trump-branded casinos in Atlantic City puts the question to their online gaming partners whether they will seek to find new relationships to continue to offer online gaming.

The Trump Plaza Casino is scheduled to close its doors on September 16. Its online gaming partner, Betfair, which operates a successful online casino (and dormant online poker room), has been given a short reprieve by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in that it can continue to operate after its closure. But it still needs to find a new home before its license formally expires just months later—and the number of options is dwindling fast.

Ultimate Gaming, which operates Ultimate Poker and UCasino in New Jersey, will now likely face the same quandary. Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday. The closure of its casino, the Trump Taj Mahal—Ultimate Gaming’s partner—is expected.

When New Jersey passed its online gaming regulation in 2013, 12 casinos were permitted to apply for online gaming licenses. This number is expected to be down to just seven by the end of the year: The 'Casino Crash’ of 2014 has already lead to the closure of Showboat, Revel and the Atlantic Club.

All seven remaining casinos already have online gaming partners. The Borgata has its own online poker room and casino, and also uses a license for its NJ prescence; Caesars owns three casinos in the city—Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s—and these are used for Caesars’ and Harrah’s own online casino and online poker under the WSOP and 888 brands; Resorts is partnered with PokerStars; and the Golden Nugget and Tropicana host their own-brand casinos.

Each casino is afforded multiple online gaming licenses, and there is no reason to assume that all these partnerships are exclusive—so there is room for Ultimate and Betfair to move to a new home, if equitable partnerships can be formed.

Online poker revenues have certainly been disappointing for both—Ultimate Poker’s traffic in New Jersey is so low that it is untracked on PokerScout; Betfair’s online poker revenues—where it sits as the only skin on the Ongame New Jersey network—generated just $48 in rake for the first six months of the year.

The casino for Betfair has fared much better, generating approximately $500,000 in revenue in the first six months of 2014, the same as Ultimate Gaming’s revenue—but this still puts the pair at the bottom of the pack for igaming.

In the end, it will be the confidence that Betfair and Ultimate have in the long term projections for New Jersey online gaming revenues and the opportunities presented by other states that will determine their course in the US.