By Alice Williams

New Jersey’s casinos and tracks won $264.5 million in July after reopening amid the coronavirus outbreak, a figure that was down nearly 21% from a year ago, but one the gambling houses will gladly take after months of inactivity.

Figures released by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement reflect the first month of resumed operations — albeit at 25% of normal capacity — that the casinos and tracks were permitted to undertake.

Internet gambling revenue more than doubled in July to $87.4 million, and sports betting revenue was $29.5 million, up 65% over July 2019 levels, with sports including baseball, basketball and hockey resuming their seasons late in the month.

“Even with public health precautions in place, there was great concern that patrons would not yet feel safe visiting the casinos in person, and there would be an extended ‘COVID drag’ on the industry,” said Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of a gambling and tourism institute at Stockton University. She said the revenue figures show “that a significant number of gamblers were willing to play in person. Whether this recovery could continue and grow will likely depend on the status of COVID-19 infection rates in the tri-state area and consumer confidence in industry safety measures.”

Just two of the nine casinos won more in July than they did a year ago. The Ocean Casino Resort won $26.2 million, up 30.3%, and the Golden Nugget won $40.3 million, up nearly 17%. Hard Rock won over $31 million, down nearly 24%.

But internet gambling and sports betting, which had continued uninterrupted amid the shutdown of the physical casino property, helped Borgata to $26.6 million for the month. That was down nearly 70% from a year ago, but was still good enough to rank the casino third in Atlantic City.