Sports betting’s soaring rise in popularity continues in New Jersey where sportsbooks generated more than $950m in wagers and a record $82.6m in revenue in January. The state’s online casinos, meanwhile, exceeded $100m in revenue, becoming the first legal gaming jurisdiction in US history to cross that threshold in a single month.
The Garden State’s opening salvo to 2021 sets the stage for a year in which the state could reach $10bn in sports wagers and more than $1bn in online casino revenue, according to analysts from PlayNJ.
Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com, explained: “New Jersey’s online casinos and sportsbooks have defied conventional wisdom from the beginning, and are hitting milestones that many thought would take years longer to reach. The rapid maturation of the online products in New Jersey has made the state the new standard bearer for the modern US gaming industry.”
New Jersey’s sportsbooks did, however, fall short of breaking the all-jurisdiction handle record for the sixth consecutive month by collecting $958.7m in wagers in January. That figure was up 77.5% from $540.1m in January 2020.
Operator revenue rose to $82.6m in January, up 29% from $53.6m year-on-year and topping December’s record-breaking $66.4m. And with $10.4m in state taxes in January, sportsbooks have now generated $107.3m for the state since launching in June 2018.
The brisk opening month builds momentum for what should be another leap forward this year. If the growth continues through the year, the state could reach nearly $10bn in sports bets, more than $600m in revenue, and $75m in state and local taxes, according to PlayNJ projections.
“2020 was an unusual year, obviously, so year-over-year growth is a good bet so long as the sports schedule remains intact,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “Considering the current momentum of New Jersey’s market, the year could really bring some eye-popping results, especially if the retail market can return to health.”
Online betting generated 92.5%, or $886.7m, of the state’s total handle in January. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet was again the market leader with $41.8m in gross revenue, up from $29m in December.
Encouragingly, retail sportsbooks showed signs of a rebound with $72.1m in bets, up from $67m in December. Meadowlands/FanDuel topped retail books in January with $5m in revenue.
Predictably, the NFL playoffs — which featured an expanded format this year — attracted heavy action, fueling $201.8m in football wagering in January.
But college basketball and the NBA, which enjoyed its first full month of its season, placed basketball first with $320.3m. And sports categorized as “other,” which includes NHL betting, topped football with $214.4m.
“With the NHL back in action and the NBA with a full schedule, January’s sports schedule was more or less normal for the first time since February 2020,” Gouker said. “That gives us a reliable barometer for where New Jersey is as a sports betting market.”
New Jersey’s online casinos have been on a roll themselves, hitting $100m in combined casino games and poker revenue for the first time. In all, online gaming and poker generated $103.8m in January, up 88.4% from $55.1m in January 2020 and topping the previous record of $99.5m set in December. January’s win yielded $15.5m in state taxes.
Online gaming continues to be one of New Jersey’s great success stories. Its year-over-year revenue is a continuation of a long pattern of growth that has now generated $2.6bn in operator revenue since launching in November 2013.
“Online casino games continue to show no signs of letting up,” Ramsey said. “Obviously with pandemic-related restrictions in place on Atlantic City casinos, online casinos were in position to pick up some slack. But the online gains made over the last year should withstand the reopening of retail casinos, continuing to buoy the entire gaming industry.”