New Jersey’s Lofty Sports Betting Numbers Fell To Earth In February

A decline from the previous two near-billion-dollar months was expected, even with the Super Bowl to goose receipts.
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New Jersey’s sports betting handle — the total amount wagered in the state — rose for eight consecutive months before a dip in January. It was not a big dip, however, as that month’s $958.7 million handle was almost in line with December’s all-time U.S. record $996.3 million.

But February proved a different story, as a “mere” $743 million worth of bets were placed legally in the state.

Of course, that number still easily outdistanced larger neighbor Pennsylvania, which produced a wagering handle of $509.5 million. And it also was well ahead of the New Jersey February 2020 mark of $494.8 million.

Bullish on a billion

Waiting for the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement’s monthly press release has become a parlor game for many — particularly after pro sports resumed action in earnest last August, leading to New Jersey’s handle more than doubling that month to $668 million.

September’s mark cleared $700 million, October vaulted over $800 million, November marked the start of the $900 million-plus era, and December nearly tripped the $1 billion betting wire.

Despite February’s dip, fans of milestones may only need to wait a month, as college basketball’s March Madness tournament should benefit from pent-up demand due to the last-minute cancellation of the event last year forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sports betting operators saw their collective gross revenue from the vertical tumble from a record $82.6 million in January to a more modest $46.2 million last month.

That’s in spite of the fact that for the first time in three tries, the books made money on the Super Bowl in 2021.

The $11.3 million in revenue from that game more than made up for losses in 2020 ($4.3 million) and 2019 ($4.5 million) as the Kansas City Chiefs’ failed repeat bid had enticed many gamblers to choose them over Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

FanDuel, PointsBet ring up profits

Only 7.2% of the February wagers came at the state’s three racetracks or at the Atlantic City casinos, with the bulk of bets, as usual, being made on the internet and smartphones.

The Meadowlands Racetrack’s mobile sports betting partnerships with FanDuel and PointsBet helped the track to be credited with more than 60% of the total sports betting revenue — or $27.2 million.

Resorts casino’s deal with DraftKings — the other daily fantasy sports betting giant — helped lead to $7.7 million in such revenue last month.

Others over the $1 million mark were Monmouth Park — with partners William Hill and theScore — at $2.6 million; Ocean Casino (with William Hill and Tipico) at $2.2 million; and Hard Rock (with Unibet) at $1.1 million.

For those who think that the house can’t lose, Tropicana ($509,000) and Harrah’s ($49,000) did just that on sports betting in February. Freehold Raceway, a relative newcomer to the competition, lost $9,000 at its track on sports betting.

Basketball-focused gamblers in New Jersey performed relatively well in January and February, collectively recouping all but 3.6% of the $23.2 million they wagered.

Multi-bet parlay players again took their lumps, losing 20.5% of their $77.2 million over the first two months of the year.

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