Legal Baseball Betting Catching On In New Jersey


Everyone knows someone who bets on football, and it’s not difficult to imagine betting on basketball.

But baseball? Who bets on baseball?

Lots of people — and according to Wednesday’s report by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, it’s a “best bet” for gamblers.

The win percentage for casino and racetrack sportsbooks plus their mobile betting partners is a modest 3.2% on $441.8 mm wagered over four regular-season months.

Basketball — both NBA and college basketball — produced $663.1 mm in handle for almost six months of action. The house’s return? 4.6%.

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Football in the calendar year featured only a handful of postseason NFL and college games, generating $115.9 mm in handle and a 4.3% return.

The DGE, like the Nevada Gaming Control Board, unfortunately lumps everything from hockey to tennis to golf to women’s World Cup soccer into a nebulous “Other” category – which resulted in $606.7 mm in handle and 4.5% win for the books. That’s more than one-quarter of the total 2019 handle, so clearly some of that category should be made available.

The year-to-date win percentage for the sportsbooks is 5.8% — which at first seems too high given the above figures.

But that’s because we haven’t mentioned parlay bets of multiple predicted winners — the lottery tickets of the sports betting world. On $402.8 mm in parlay bets, the house kept a whopping 12.9%.

Dog days come early in NJ

As for the monthly figures, the July handle of $251.4 mm was the lowest since September 2018 — the early days of New Jersey mobile sports betting.

With no football or basketball and no particularly special events, the number is not shocking. (Nor was the mere $40.6 mm in July 2018, before mobile options were available and with modest consumer awareness of the brick-and-mortar options.)

Speaking of casino and racetrack sportsbooks, their $38.3 mm in handle was a fourth straight monthly decline, now reaching a record-low 15.1% of total handle.

It was a solid month for gross revenues, as $17.9 mm nearly doubled June’s results in spite of a lower handle in July. The Meadowlands Racetrack and partner FanDuel accounted for about half of that figure, with DraftKings, Resorts, and other partners claiming $3.7 mm.

Monmouth Park and partners including William Hill took in just under $2 mm. The leading Atlantic City casino brand was Borgata at about $900k, with Ocean Resort — also with upgraded sports betting space — coming in at $600k.

Unlike some months, all of the brands made money in July. Harrah’s trailed the field with a mere $113k in sports betting revenue.

Quite the handicapper

Kudos to “Captain Jack Andrews,” who is @capjack2000 on Twitter. His Tuesday poll produced 185 votes on predicting the July handle that broke down like this:

“July NJ Sports Revenue numbers drop at 2pm tomorrow. Total July sports betting handle:
  • Over $300 mm — 24%
  • Between $270 mm and $300 mm — 25%
  • Between $240 mm and $270 mm — 26%
  • Under $240 mm — 25%”

The “wisdom of crowds” indeed — the winner was the third choice, picked by 26% of his followers.

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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