Internet gambling grew substantially in its second full month in New Jersey.
And it's a good thing, too, because without that extra online money, Atlantic City's 11 casinos would have endured a much worse January than they did.
Between land-based casino winnings and money coming in from Internet gambling, the casinos took in $195.7 million. That was down 4.6 percent from a year ago.
But without the $9.5 million that casinos won through their Internet operations, Atlantic City's casinos would have seen overall revenue fall by 9.2 percent for the month.
January was the second full month that Internet gambling was conducted in New Jersey, after beginning in late November.
The casinos won $7.4 million over the Internet in December. January's $9.5 million represented a 28 percent increase.
The city's overall revenue figures also were hurt by the Jan. 13 shutdown of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.
Figures released Wednesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the online gambling market is now a much closer race for dominance between the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and its partypoker brand, and Caesars Interactive, with its wsop.com and 888 brands. In January, the Borgata won nearly $3.9 million online, while Caesars won just over $3 million.
Keith Smith, president of Boyd Gaming, which owns half the Borgata, said online gambling had again brought new customers to the Borgata rather than cannibalizing existing business _ a big concern in the Atlantic City casino industry.
"These results also once again demonstrate online gaming's potential to expand our business," he said. "About 85 percent of our online players have not had rated play at Borgata in at least two years, showing there is little overlap with our land-based business. Online gaming is growing our database, creating a long-term opportunity to market Borgata to an entirely new group of customers."
The Borgata has 41 percent of New Jersey's online market, but Caesars Interactive drew much closer to Borgata in January, increasing its online revenue by 49 percent.
"It was a very strong month for us," said Seth Palansky, a spokesman for Caesars Interactive. "We saw huge growth in casino revenue, and significant growth in poker revenue, too. We started marketing in earnest in January, and the promotions we offered our customers really seemed to resonate well. We're very encouraged on how the New Jersey market is performing for us across all three of our brands, CaesarsCasino.com, Harrahscasino.com and WSOP.com."
The Borgata, which had its Winter Poker Open last month, said its overall poker winnings were up 25 percent. A counterfeit chip scandal that led to the suspension of one of the tournament's rounds and led to the arrest of a player cost the casino extra revenue.
Other Internet gambling providers continued to lag behind in January. The Trump Taj Mahal, with its Ultimate Casino brand, took in $858,351, placing it slightly ahead of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, with its Virgin and Tropicana brand sites, which took in $841,065 for the month.
Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and its Betfair brand won $557,007 online in January, and the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, with its self-branded site, won $286,922 online.
As far as land-based casino winnings went, Revel Casino Hotel showed the biggest percentage increase, up 23 percent to $9.8 million in January. The Golden Nugget was up nearly 10 percent to $10.5 million; the Borgata was up 2.5 percent to $48.3 million, and Resorts Casino Hotel, whose Internet gambling operation has been on hold while its online partner, PokerStars, serves a state suspension of up to two years, was up 2.4 percent, to $8.3 million.
Trump Plaza posted the biggest decline among land-based casino operations, falling 26.7 percent for the month to $3.5 million. Caesars Atlantic City was down 23.4 percent to $17.8 million; and the Taj Mahal was down 18.2 percent to $15.4 million.
The Showboat Casino Hotel was down 17.3 percent to $11.2 million; Bally's Atlantic City was down 15.7 percent to $14.8 million; Tropicana was down 8.8 percent to $16.6 million and Harrah's Resort Atlantic City was down 3.9 percent to $25.6 million.
The Atlantic Club took in $3.9 million in the 12 days it was open in January. It was bought in December in a bankruptcy court auction by Tropicana and Caesars, which divvied up its assets and shut it down.