With Atlantic City casinos closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-March until July 4 weekend, and thereafter limited to 25% capacity, it was up to NJ online casino gaming to pick up much of the slack.
That tendency also applied, according to figures released last week by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, to where the biggest casino jackpots of 2020 were won.
The runner-up, at $3.3 million, occurred July 27 on PlayMGM, a mobile partner of Borgata. That came on a “The Big One Colossal Cash: Luck’O’Jackpot” game.
But the lucky winner of $2.6 million, the third biggest jackpot of the year, was on hand at Bally’s Park Place casino back on Jan. 19, somehow winning that amount on a Wheel of Fortune penny slots machine.
Tropicana a lucky casino for a pair
The year’s two next biggest brick-and-mortar winners each were claimed on the grounds of Boardwalk casino Tropicana.
At PlaySugarhouse, a partner of Golden Nugget, a Slingo Reel Extreme player won $503,000 on Jan. 19 — the same day as the $2.6 million jackpot was won in person at Bally’s.
There were no $500,000-or-more jackpots won last year in New Jersey in April, June, September, October, or November.
Charting the big jackpots of the past
That total was hit 770 times at the state’s casinos and affiliated websites in 2020, compared to 611 in 2019 and 384 in 2018.
The first online million-dollar casino jackpot of 2015 occurred on Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day — when a $500 play turned into $1.5 million on the Let It Ride game on Betfair Casino, a Golden Nugget partner.
That was followed by a pair of such wins in 2016, though at brick-and-mortar casinos: $3.1 million on Jan. 2 at Trump Taj Mahal on a 1-cent Wheel of Fortune play, and $1.5 million on a $1 Wheel of Fortune try at Harrah’s on Oct. 15.
Two more million-dollar jackpots were won at Atlantic City casinos in 2017: $2.6 million on a Wheel of Fortune 25-cent Pink Diamond game at Harrah’s on Aug. 21, and a $1.2 million prize at Bally’s on a 25-cent Reel Adventures-Elvis game at Resorts just eight days later.
There was only one “instant millionaire” from these games in 2019: $1.1 million won on, you guessed it, Wheel of Fortune, at Golden Nugget on July 27.
Back to 2020
Last year, there were 44 payouts of at least $200,000.
Aside from the 10 worth at least a half-million, one more was worth over $400,000, and another six were in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.
As for the luckiest pair of days for the most gamblers in 2020, that distinction goes to Oct. 24 and Oct. 25.
Seven players won $50,000 and another won $60,000 on Oct. 24 — all at Betfair Casino and all on the same game, Blackjack Classic Touch. That same day, Borgata online casino paid two six-figure winners: $200,000 on Game King: Triple Double Bonus poker and $104,000 on Panda Power.
The next day, Blackjack Classic Touch produced seven more winners of $50,000 to $60,000, and Resorts online casino had a $127,000 winner. On that same day, and again on Betfair Casino, a fortunate player won $87,000 on Multi-hand Blackjack Perfect Pairs + 21+3. Over at Resorts online on Oct. 25, a Blue Ribbon game paid $127,000, and at the Tropicana, a player got to celebrate a $98,000 win on Triple Play Poker Link.