Sports betting can be a fickle business, as operators in New Jersey will attest following a turbulent period of trade during October that saw revenue plummet by 51 per cent on September’s take. More recently, the epic game between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs turned out to be a torrid affair for William Hill when bettors waged heavily on the over. It was reported as a seven-figure hit for the bookie.

That these losses have been inflicted against a background of record high levels of sports wagering shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise. This is betting, not roulette or machine gaming.

US sports betting guide Bonus Seeker summarized the situation, saying: “While it’s too early to throw in the red flag we should take notice of a few things. Firstly, not all NJ online casinos who are planning to offer sports betting have launched as of today. Golden Nugget online casino, Resorts Online Casino, Hard Rock online casino, and Bet365 are just a few that all plan to launch online sportsbooks within the next few months. So, the market is still very young and without a few of its heavy hitters.”

Secondly, it suggested, NJ sportsbooks can have ‘bad months’, adding: “At the current level of revenue, it is very easy for a few big wins to drastically sway the revenue total. Look at DraftKings Sportsbook. They went from $8.5m in September to just over $5m in October. While we don’t have visibility into turnover volume, we can say confidently that DraftKings probably took in some heavy action that didn’t go their way. Thirdly, home underdogs have been uncharacteristically good against the spread this year with a total record of 27-22-1 through November 20.”

Bonus Seeker also ventured the view that the sportsbooks are still trying to catch their footing. “It’s early days for NJ sports betting and most books are still tweaking their operations and gearing up their marketing,” it offered. “There is still much to learn in terms of liability and odds management and the books are getting better every day. Give them some time and not before long will we see more brand advertising and better service.”

“We’ll be keeping a close on the market as we move out of the NFL regular season to see what impact that will also have on the market but it should be noted that there could be some lost revenue back to the black market while NJ still suffers from payment and registration pains,” said NJ marketing editor, Anirudh Vashishth.

One of the big positives to take away from the latest figures, however, is the very real possibility that bettors are being encouraged to eschew illegal operations to take advantage of the newly regulated market. New Jersey’s online and retail sportsbooks certainly indicate as much. They set a new benchmark in October, handling nearly $261m and taking the total wager value to more than $500m since the strike down of PASPA in June.

Those ‘new’ dollars are being spent by bettors who, we can only presume, prefer the idea of enjoying a sports wagering experience delivered in pleasant surroundings with state-of-the-art facilities by tried and trusted betting brands over what the black market operators can offer. At least that’s what the numbers seem to point to.

Isn’t that what the removal of PASPA was all about? Well apart from the money! And on that front the Act’s removal has been an unprecedented success. Sports betting is actually raising taxes, something that was unheard of outside of Nevada until the Supreme Court did its thing. These should be small crumbs of comfort for the bookies to savor as they look to take on America’s savvy punters and turn around October’s miserable performance.