Betfair made a splash in the U.S. online gambling market last October by proudly proclaiming “Betfair is Coming to New Jersey” even before its entry was approved by state gaming regulators. While the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) did eventually give the OK, Betfair may now be in need of a new marketing strategy just nine months later following the recent announcement that its casino partner, Trump Plaza, will be closing in September.
State statutes require gaming site operators to be allied with a casino, which puts BetfairCasino.com at risk considering that Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino will lock its doors in two months. Other options of partnering with an Atlantic City gaming establishment have also diminished greatly this year, as the Atlantic Club closed in January and the Showboat Casino is scheduled to shutdown on Aug. 31.
Also presumably not an option for partnership at this time is the Revel Casino following its second bankruptcy filing in as many years. An autumn closure looms on the horizon for Revel if a buyer is not found.
On the bright side, the DGE recently relaxed restrictions on the number of platforms that a casino with an online gambling permit can operate. A handful of platforms are now allowed as opposed to the previous limit of one, improving Betfair’s odds of striking a deal with one of the the eight casinos that appear poised to remain in operation.
Some industry insiders believe that Betfair may already have a contingency plan in place. With the Atlantic City gaming industry showing declines for seven years running, it would have been most prudent to prepare for a possible casino closure ahead of time.
Many bricks and mortar casinos in Atlantic City have been in financial distress for some time now,” Goodbody gaming analyst Gavin Kelleher told eGR. “It was one of the reasons they were prepared to offer online gambling. So I think the likes of Betfair, 888 and bwin.party will have had this in mind when deals were being signed last year.”
Betfair has elected not to respond on the matter as of yet, allowing for rampant speculation within the industry. One train of thought leads to a partnership via the Trump Taj Mahal, the second of two casinos operated by Betfair’s current partner, Trump Entertainment.
Trump Taj Mahal is already partnered with Ultimate Poker’s parent company, Ultimate Gaming. Betfair could perhaps make a deal via that casino, provided that no previous stipulations with Ultimate Gaming are breached in the process.
The gross gaming revenue collected by Betfair year-to-date in New Jersey has been an underwhelming $3.7 million, well off the pace of its competitors. But an exit from the U.S. market does not seem likely considering the investment already made and the lucrative possibilities that may lie ahead in the future.