So where did the recovery begin? Was it the most historic event in modern US gaming: the overturning of PASPA and subsequent legalisation of sports wagering in May 2018? Thanks to the campaigning of then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, among others, it was not as though this landmark event happened overnight. Several executives have spoken to Gaming America about following this case throughout and judging the mood enough to expect a positive outcome, thereby being ready to launch as soon as possible. The success of sports betting markets across the US since has demonstrated the ruling’s significance, despite the gavel only landing two and a half years ago.
The overturning of PASPA has been a bright spot for the entire industry... New Jersey certainly benefitted from being one of the first states to market, particularly by bringing guests to Atlantic City from the greater Philadelphia market
“The overturning of PASPA has been a bright spot for the entire industry,” comment Thomas Zitt, Ph.D., EVP and Brian Wyman, Ph.D., SVP, operations & data analytics at The Innovation Group. “We’ve gone from commentators subtly dancing around betting lines to a media frenzy around sports wagering. Ten years ago it was inconceivable there would be betting-oriented segments on SportsCenter or programming on The MSG Network focused on in-game wagering. New Jersey certainly benefitted from being one of the first states to market, particularly by bringing guests to Atlantic City from the greater Philadelphia market, where sports betting wasn’t yet legal. New York bettors also crossed the border to wager, but they had the Meadowlands as a closer option so the benefit to Atlantic City was disproportionately from Pennsylvania.”
It is worth noting that the openings of Ocean and Hard Rock (formerly the Taj Mahal) coincided with the introduction of legalised sports betting, providing a significant boost to Atlantic City visitation. The Innovation Group analysts note that even going into early 2020, year-on-year average growth was still in the high single digits. But that does not detract from sports betting’s impact, they conclude: “We’d say Atlantic City has benefitted greatly from property openings, but the availability of sports betting made it a lot easier for people to decide to go ‘down the shore’ to check out the new properties. This has had a lasting impact and really launched a revitalisation of the Atlantic City market.”