New Jersey will surpass Nevada in the sports betting stakes by as early as next year according to the state’s Governor Phil Murphy. The bold prediction was made during his keynote address to this week’s inaugural Betting on Sports America conference at the Meadowlands Convention Center to a room packed with delegates drawn from across the sports wagering sector.

Emphasizing the Garden State’s potential to grow sports betting, he stated: “My vision is for New Jersey to continue to lead the way to be both the intellectual and technical capital of online sports wagering in the United States – the place where new technologies are built and proven and the place that other states emulate in creating a regulatory structure that enables the marketplace to thrive.”

He continued: “For every aspect of the industry – from product marketing, to analytics, to compliance services and everything in between – New Jersey is the place you want to be. Today we find ourselves in a strong position to provide this leadership. Already, not one year on from when I placed those first legal bets – it’s really only just over 10 months – over $2bn has been waged. We have pumped new life and brought new customers to our race tracks and casinos.”

Murphy added that New Jersey has “catapulted” itself to be the second largest sports wagering market in the country. “Nevada is clearly in our sights and we can overtake it and its decades long head start, according to experts, as early as next year,” he noted.

The Governor also took time to add some balance to the ongoing expansion of sports wagering, highlighting the need to manage expectations on taxation, while celebrating the boost in employment it is likely to bring and the shift away from illegal betting practises.

“When we undertook this effort there were those that dismissed it as just another cash grab for the state – that we were looking for some sort of a hail Mary infusion of tax revenues,” he explained. “Certainly from a state budget point of view the revenues are welcome but we didn’t delude ourselves into thinking that this was going to be something that it wasn’t.

“Over the first nine months of our legal industry the state has realized an average of more than $1.5bn per month in new tax revenue. And believe me it’s welcome revenue for sure. But when we weigh that against a $38bn state budget, it is just a drop in the proverbial bucket.”

Murphy added: “What we did do, however, was much bigger. We brought what was an underground and illegal industry into the light of day where it could create and protect jobs that take our racetracks and casinos into the growing tech sector. The sports wagering industry – both in person and online – is projected to support thousands of new jobs in New Jersey by 2020.”