New Jersey Wraps Up 2019 With Another Lucrative Sports Betting Month

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The December sports betting revenue figures released Tuesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement also opened the door for a look back at all of 2019.

And for the significant part of the population that doesn’t gamble, the fact that $4.58 billion was legally wagered in the state might seem mind-boggling.

Operator revenue — from the Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park to the Atlantic City casinos and nearly 20 of their mobile betting partner sites — was a more modest $299.4 mm, for a 6.5% hold that is quite respectable for the industry.

New Jersey taxpayers might like to know how much the state got to keep. That would be $36.5 mm, with an estimated $5 mm to $6 mm of that coming from residents of New York who crossed the Hudson River rather than visit the far upstate casinos in their own state that also offer legal sports betting.

Of the government’s take, $4.7 mm came on an 8.5% tax on bets made at state racetracks and casinos and $31.8 mm from a 13% tax on mobile betting revenue. Also, twice as much tax revenue came from the two racetracks as from the eight Atlantic City sportsbooks.

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On the mobile side, most of the revenue was derived from the Meadowlands’ partnerships (mainly with FanDuel and PointsBet) and Resorts Digital’s tie-in with DraftKings and other partners. Those accounted for $26 mm of that $31.8 mm total.

December numbers

The state’s monthly record for sports betting since legal wagering began in mid-2018 was the $562.7 mm bet in November. December nearly claimed the title, falling just short with its $557.8 mm.

The gambling industry’s revenues fluctuate by the month, depending how savvy (or lucky, or both) the bettors are.

March Madness led to a then-record $31.7 mm in single-month revenue, but that number was topped by September ($37.9 mm), October ($46.4 mm), and November ($32.9 mm).

Borgata, the brand leader among Atlantic City casinos, posted an impressive $2.3 mm in sports betting revenue in December after making just $0.2 mm in December 2018. Adding an $11 mm sportsbook that opened mid-year no doubt contributed to the improvement.

Rising Ocean

Getting back to the full-year numbers, Ocean Casino Resort was the winner in Atlantic City, with $17.4 mm in revenue versus Borgata’s $10.5 mm.

Bally’s has the largest square footage among the AC sportsbooks, but it had to settle for $5.5 mm in sports betting revenue in 2019. Hard Rock, whose tiny sportsbook area looks almost like an afterthought, checked in next nonetheless at $3.5 mm. Golden Nugget ($2.4 mm) and Resorts ($2.1 mm) came next, with Tropicana ($1.9 mm) and Harrah’s ($0.6 mm) bringing up the rear.

The Meadowlands Racetrack and its partners collected $149.9 mm in revenue in 2019, accounting for half of the state total. Monmouth Park and its partners brought in $25.9 mm, easily topping any of the casinos.

Las Vegas casinos have found baseball bettors to be the savviest, and that proved true in New Jersey last year as well, as operators held onto just 3.9% of the $698.4 mm wagered on the sport.

Basketball bettors lost 4.8% of their $935 mm, and football gamblers had losses of 5.4% on $939 mm. Another $1.1 billion  was risked on “other” sports, including hockey, soccer, boxing, mixed martial arts, tennis, and golf. Those bettors had losses of 5.1%.

As always, “the biggest losers” were parlay bettors, who lost 13.1% of their quixotic $880 mm wagered, leading to more lost dollars than straight-up football and basketball bettors combined.

Mobile was king in 2019

Of the $4.58 billion wagered in the state, $3.84 billion of that came from bets made on laptops, desktops, and smartphones. The casinos and racetracks took in another $747 mm in bets, so the total percentage of money wagered online was 83.8%.

Those are numbers that later-arriving states to the sports betting industry might want to weigh.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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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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