MLB Is King Of NJ’s First Sports Betting Revenue Figures

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New Jersey regulators released their first sports betting revenue numbers today  – from Monmouth Park racetrack and Borgata and Ocean Resorts casinos in Atlantic City – and Major League Baseball was the most popular play.

Another big winner was Monmouth Park, which more than doubled the handle of the mighty Borgata casino.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement reported that there was a $16.4 million total handle, with just $1 million of that on “futures” bets.

On the “completed events” side, 66 percent of the bets were on baseball and 14 percent on soccer (World Cup). On the futures side, 48 percent was on World Cup (including my $5 at Monmouth Park on England, which lost yesterday in the semifinals). Another 27 percent was on NFL futures, and 12 percent on who will win the World Series.

The regulators include futures bets – like who will win the 2019 Super Bowl – as part of sports betting gross revenue that is taxed immediately, while the winning payouts will be deducted from gross revenue next February for those bets. So sports wagering gross revenue is not revenue under the “accrual basis of accounting,” and thus not comparable to “win” at Nevada casinos.

I spoke with Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk this week, and he had a similar observation about their first-weeks figures. So what on the surface looked like a 14 percent return comes out closer to 8 percent.

How much did the track and casinos win?

In New Jersey, the “sports wagering win percentage” – comparable to Nevada’s numbers – was 7.8 percent retained by the three properties, or $1.2 million total.

Monmouth Park and Borgata each debuted sports betting on June 14, three days after Gov. Murphy signed a bill into law and one month after a milestone U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Congress’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. The revenue at Monmouth Park was $2.28 million compared to $986,000 at Borgata – a mild surprise given that Atlantic City is in its peak season and Borgata is the market leader there. Monmouth Park’s easier accessibility to large populations in northern New Jersey and New York City appears to have tipped the scales.
Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin told NJ Online Gambling that he was not surprised, however.

“Monmouth has been at the forefront of the push for sports betting in New Jersey from Day One,” said Drazin, who represents the state’s thoroughbred horsemen who were granted intervenor status in the legal fight with the sports leagues back in 2012. “I couldn’t have written a check for $10 million and gotten as much publicity as we did.

“This was the biggest gamble of my career, and it paid off,” added Drazin, an attorney and horse owner whose two-year-old colt named Sports Betting won a race at the track just four days before such gambling debuted at Monmouth Park.

Early start a key for Monmouth Park

In fact, it’s been five years since British bookmaking firm William Hill converted a cafeteria at Monmouth Park into a Las Vegas-style sports book even though sports betting was far from being made legal by the U.S. Supreme Court just two months ago.

So countless potential sports betting patrons have visited the track over the years, seen the sports book, and heard in the media about Monmouth Park’s co-starring role in the legal fight. Once that fight was won, they scampered to the track – some even arriving in time to watch the many recent 8 a.m. starting time World Cup soccer games that were played in Russia.

Drazin said that once all the tracks (the Meadowlands launches sports betting on Saturday) and Atlantic City casinos are open for sports betting business, he expects Monmouth Park to land about 10 percent of the overall betting in the state.

Ocean Resort – formerly Revel – didn’t debut its book until June 28, which happened to be the same day it launched its land-based casino, but reported a respectable $193,000 in revenue for three days.
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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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