NJ Sports Betting Industry Wraps Up Year With A Flourish, Even As Land-Based Handle Falters

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The December chill may have driven players away from the land-based sportsbooks, but thanks to more players cozying up to their mobile apps, both New Jersey sports betting handle and revenue shot roughly par.

Overall handle was down a smidge from last month’s high-water mark of $330.7 mm, as the industry took in $319.1 mm in wagers. Revenue too, took a minor hit, falling from $21.24 mm in November to a still healthy $20.81 mm.

December drop-offs are not uncommon in the U.S. sports betting industry, with handle typically peaking during the early-to-middle part of the football season, before trailing off as the playoffs near. Given this, a smallish decline of 3.5% should still be considered a win, especially given the dearth of new operators entering the market.

Another win for online

Attention anyone who is drafting sports betting legislation for the 2019 session: Get your pencils ready, and make sure to include the word “online” in your bill. Despite December’s overall downturn, online sports betting handle continued to climb, albeit at a much slower pace than we witnessed in previous months.

Bettors placed $241 mm in wagers from online and mobile wagering apps, accounting for a staggering 75.5% of total industry handle, up from 72.1% last month, and climbing from just $104.9 mm in September. At this point, there is little denying that online is the future of this industry.

Land-based handle, despite an exceptionally warm December here in New Jersey, along with a rare 10 weekend days, was down in the dumps. In November, the state’s various brick-and-mortar books, located primarily in Atlantic City but also at The Meadowlands and Monmouth Park racetracks, took in $92.1 mm. That figure sputtered to just $78.1 mm in December.

For a deeper look at the numbers, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement provides a monthly breakdown.

Winners and losers

Of the online books, the clear winners were once again DFS giants turned sportsbook behemoths, DraftKings and FanDuel. DraftKings Sportsbook appears to have led the charge, as parent license Resorts Digital raked in $6.69 mm in revenue. In previous months, DK accounted for 95% or more of license revenue, and we’re assuming that percentage more or less held in December. Struggling BetStars NJ is the other online operator on the Resorts Digital license.

The online arm of FanDuel Sportsbook also put forth an admirable performance, accounting for $5.53 mm in revenue. It’s worth noting that not all of that revenue was accounted for by FanDuel, as PointsBet debuted under the Meadowlands license in mid-December. However, seeing that the site didn’t yet support a mobile app and was only in soft launch, we’re presuming that it represented a very small percentage of The Meadowlands overall take. As time passes, it will become more and more difficult to differentiate just how much each skin generates.

FanDuel also shined on the land-based front, with its book at The Meadowlands blowing every other physical book out of the water. In December, the East Rutherford-based book secured $3.58 mm in revenue. Second place? Monmouth Park at just $1.03 mm.

FanDuel wasn’t shy about its newfound glory as industry leader, stating “December was another great month for the FanDuel Sportsbook, New Jersey’s top sportsbook by handle and revenue.  We saw significant increases in revenue for our retail and online sportsbooks and delivered holiday cheer to our customers with more than half of our online Sportsbook patrons benefiting from a promotional bonus in December.”

DraftKings, which opened its permanent retail book at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City in November, posted unimpressive revenue of $196k. Thus, DK may still be the “King” of online sports betting, but its tenure as overall market share leader in the New Jersey market appears to have come to an end. The operator could have helped itself via its widely publicized Sports Betting National Championship, which took place just last weekend, but controversy emerging from a technical mishap hung a black cloud over the event.

That being said, not all of DraftKings’ revenue was accounted for in the sports betting report, as the operator recently started offering casino games. And so far, they appear to be a hit with bettors. From Jamie Shea, Senior Director of Digital Sportsbook: “DraftKings wrapped up 2018 as the clear leader in mobile sports betting. Always looking to deliver more for our customers, we also added casino-style games to our Sportsbook app and will continue to build out a true one-stop destination for sports fans in New Jersey and future states.”

Together, Resorts Digital and the New Meadowlands licenses accounted for 76.9% of industry revenue — an otherworldly figure given the sheer wealth of retail and online books currently occupying the space.

Big picture

For the roughly six-and-a-half months that NJ sports betting was operational in 2018, it took $1.25 billion in wagers, with more than half that figure coming in the last two months of the year. This clearly bodes well for the future prospects of the industry, which could see $4-5 billion in handle as early as 2019, with increased brand awareness and new books driving growth.

Football was by far the most popular sport, with $501 mm in handle, or 40.5%. However, this number is skewed, as the industry wasn’t live from January through mid-June, most of which aren’t football betting months. Basketball has already emerged as the second-most popular sport to bet on, with handle coming in at $191.5 mm. Parlays accounted for over $203 mm in handle in 2018

In 2018, sports betting generated a touch over $94 mm in revenue.

 

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Robert is a veteran writer and analyst for the gambling industry, with a particular focus on the emergent US online gambling market. An avid poker and gambling enthusiast, Robert offers unique perspectives from both the vantage point of the player and industry professional, and is fit to cover a broad spectrum of topics.

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