Sports Are Back — And So Is Sports Betting In NJ, With Dramatic Handle And Revenue Spikes

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Sports returned in a big way in July, and New Jersey gamblers responded in kind.

The $29.6 million in revenue for the state’s sportsbooks easily exceeded that of April, May, and June combined.

That July revenue came off a remarkable $315 million handle — or amount wagered. All but $19 million of that handle, meanwhile, came from mobile sports betting, even though the state’s casinos as well as the Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park reopened to limited capacities for the last four weeks of the month.

The state’s allowance of mobile sports betting and online casino gaming as well as the reopening of the casinos has gone a long way toward making the casinos relatively whole.

The total gaming revenue for the industry was $264.5 million, down a manageable if still unpalatable 20.9% from July 2019. It also is $264.5 million more than New York State’s four commercial casinos collected in July with no legal mobile sports betting or online casino gaming and with none of those brick-and-mortar casinos having reopened.

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New Jersey also collected $30.6 million in gaming taxes for the month, with New York collecting nothing.

Internet gaming still sizzling

The allure of late-month baseball and basketball games as well as PGA Tour, NASCAR, and boxing and MMA showcases didn’t dent the online casino gaming numbers in New Jersey. July’s $87.5 million in revenue slightly exceeded the figures in June ($84.9 million), May ($85.9 million), and April ($80 million).

Internet gaming revenue has nearly doubled in the first seven months of 2020 compared to that period in 2019, to $510.2 million. For comparison, sports betting revenue in 2020 is $138.5 million.

Online poker’s revival continued in July, with $4.8 million in revenue — up significantly over July 2019’s $1.9 million.

Whether in spite of, or because of, the COVID-19 pandemic, sports betting revenue in 2020 is up 8.6% year over year, to $138.5 million.

On the casino side, Hard Rock celebrated its second anniversary with an Atlantic City-best $24.6 million in revenue to nose past two-year-old Ocean Casino ($23.6 million) and Harrah’s ($21.2 million).

In what a casual observer might think was a stunning turn, perennial industry leader Borgata went from the biggest winner in July 2019 ($80.8 million) to the smallest winner last month ($8.4 million). But that “loss” was self-inflicted; Borgata executives decided not to follow rival casinos in reopening on July 4 weekend, instead not inviting the public in until July 26.

Borgata’s online casino gaming revenue, meanwhile, more than doubled last month to $15.3 million.

The hold for sports betting operators in the state in 2020 stands at an even 7%, with multi-game “parlay” betting attracting nearly 20% of the handle with a return of 17.7% for the books.

What there has been of football, baseball, and basketball wagering this year has returned the books under 4% in each instance.

Photo by Brad Penner / USA Today Sports

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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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