Major NJ Gambling Barrier Broken In January Numbers — But It’s Not Sports Betting Handle


After coming oh-so-close to a milestone in December 2020, the ceiling was finally broken in January 2021.

Yes, New Jersey online casino gaming revenue — which was $99.5 million in December — climbed across the $100 million mark to $103.8 million, nearly double the $55.1 million collected in January 2020.

Meanwhile, the more nationally talked-about figure — New Jersey’s sports betting handle — again came up just short of a milestone, per figures supplied by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. A robust $958.7 million in sports handle in January could not topple December’s $996.3 million — nor the fabled $1 billion monthly mark that has yet to be reached in the U.S.

That snaps an eight-month “winning streak” of ever-increasing handle since the bottom fell out in March and April with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down most traditional sporting events.

Still, last month’s handle bested the combined handle for January and February 2020 — which was $935 million.

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Champagne for sportsbook operators

Of course, New Jersey’s nearly two dozen sportsbooks — all in partnership with either one of the nine Atlantic City casinos or one of the state’s three racetracks — have more reason to focus on revenue than handle.

And in that respect, January offered a dazzling start to the new year. The books held $82.6 million, crushing the previous mark of $66 million set just a month earlier. That’s a healthy 8.6% hold for the books.

And the key to that house win was multi-leg parlay bets. While parlays, with their lure of potentially life-changing payouts should a bettor get very lucky, tend to return double-digit returns for the sportsbooks, January proved especially lucrative. The books kept $43.6 million of $220.2 million in parlay bets for an eye-popping 19.8% hold.

So 51.5% of the books’ total revenue came from parlays — which accounted for just 23% of the handle.

An impressive 92.4% of New Jersey’s sports wagers came from mobile betting, with just $72.1 million coming from bets placed at the racetracks and casinos in a COVID era that limits the number of patrons for public health reasons.

And more bubbly to follow?

The projected betting handle for New Jersey in 2021 after just one month stands at $11.5 billion.

We already have a hint that February will be another good month for the books. That’s because for the first time in three annual tries, the books beat the bettors on the Super Bowl.

DGE officials announced an $11.3 million hold for sportsbook operators on a record $117.4 million wagered on the “Big Game” — a win of nearly 10% that more than wiped out the Super Bowl losses from 2019 and 2020 combined.

More than half of January revenue — $46.8 million — for the sportsbooks came from the Meadowlands Racetrack and its FanDuel and PointsBet partners. Monmouth Park and its partners William Hill and theScore managed another $3.7 million in revenue, and with roughly $200k for Freehold Raceway and its mobile partners, the tracks surpassed the $50 million mark all told.

In the “Atlantic City casino and partners” bracket, Resorts Digital — led by its big-name DraftKings alliance — led the way with $15.7 million in revenue. The Borgata-affiliated sportsbooks and Ocean Casino, at $8.5 million and $4.6 million, respectively, also cracked seven figures for the month.

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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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