A widely anticipated seasonal dip in activity saw sportsbooks in New Jersey experience a slowdown in betting volume to less than $750m in April.
The popularity of the NBA, however, helped spur the nation’s largest sports betting market past $15bn in lifetime handle, $1bn in revenue, and $150m in tax revenue, according to PlayNJ.
Garden State sportsbooks accepted $748m in wagers in April, down 13% from $859.6m in March, but up 1,270.1% over the $54.6m in bets taken in April 2020, the first full month sportsbooks were affected by pandemic-related shutdowns.
Operator revenue dropped 9.9% to $54.8m in April from $60.8m in March. Compared with April 2020, which resulted in just $2.6m, revenue was up 1,981.9% year over year. April’s action yielded $8.1m in state taxes.
“Considering the challenges, particularly in 2020, $15bn in wagering and $1bn in revenue are incredible yard sticks that really drive home just how successful the New Jersey market has been,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “At least until New York launches its sports betting industry, New Jersey seems untouchable as the nation’s largest market.”
From 2018 through April 2020, New Jersey sportsbooks have generated $15.2bn in handle, $1.04bn in sport betting revenue, and $151.4m in state taxes.
April’s results are microcosm of the consistency that has helped make New Jersey the nation’s top sports betting market. While volume declined from March, the month-on-month drop in wagering was less pronounced than other US betting markets, including Colorado (-18%), Indiana (-25.4%), Iowa (-26.7%), and Michigan (-30.5%).
The popularity of the NBA and baseball in New Jersey was a key reason, as area bettors were particularly motivated by the success of the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and New York Knicks.
In all, basketball betting produced $176.2m in bets, which was down from the $441.7m tallied during March Madness. Baseball’s first month was the second-most popular bet in April, generating $159.3m.
“New Jersey is unique in that it has never been quite as reliant on football as other legal jurisdictions,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “NBA has always been particularly popular. Add that the region’s three most popular teams are all enjoying relatively strong seasons, and New Jersey sportsbooks have so far been able to smooth the natural seasonal decline that begins in April.”
Even with retail restrictions loosening in Atlantic City, online betting accounted for 91.1%, or $681.2m, of the state’s total handle in April. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet topped the online market with $25.5m in gross revenue, down from $28.5m in March.
Meanwhile retail sportsbooks generated $66.8m in wagering, down from $79.5m in March and a stark difference from the complete shutdown of retail betting in 2020. Meadowlands/FanDuel led all retail books with $3.6m in revenue in April.
“Retail betting is slowly returning to normal, and that could become even more pronounced when all capacity restrictions are lifted next week,” Gouker added. “That won’t make a major difference for online sportsbooks, which are overwhelmingly preferred by bettors. But it could have an impact on online casino revenue, which made a massive and sustained jump since pandemic-related restrictions began last year.”
Online casinos and poker rooms enjoyed another month of whopping revenue with $107.7m in April, which was up 34.8% from $80m in April 2020, though off from the record $113.7m generated in March. April marked the third time in four months that New Jersey’s online casinos and poker rooms have produced more than $100m in revenue, the only three months any state has crossed the threshold.
For the second consecutive month, Borgata, which includes the BetMGM brand, wrestled the market lead away from years-long market leader Golden Nugget. But only slightly. Borgata won $32.8m in revenue on online casino games and poker in April, a dramatic increase from $15.9m in revenue in April 2020 even if revenue was down from $36.2m in March.
Golden Nugget was second with $32.4m in revenue, up from $26.7m in April 2020 and up from $31.8m in March. Resorts Digital, which includes the FoxBet and DraftKings brands, was third with $19.6m in April, up from $16.1m in April 2020 but down from $21.4m in March.
“The battle for market supremacy was something that would have been hard to predict before the pandemic, but 2020 has really shaken up the way people interact with casino games, perhaps forever,” Ramsey said.
“With restrictions in Atlantic City going away, though, this could mark the ceiling of the online market. But a more reasonable expectation is a moderation of the exponential growth that began in spring 2020, rather than an end to it.”