State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – New Jersey Smashes Its Own Record with $748.6m Handle

Admin    Admin     October 16, 2020    

New Jersey set another US sports betting record when its operators took a handle of $748.6 million in September. Garden State sportsbooks first broke the existing record by taking $668 million during August, and then smashed it again when they enjoyed 12.1% growth in September. It cements New Jersey’s status as the largest sports betting market in the country, with Nevada now a distant second.

The new NFL and college football seasons began last month, and football contributed $159.5 million to the total sports betting handle in New Jersey. The leading category was “other”, which includes hockey. The NHL playoffs and Stanley Cup finals were still raging on in September, while there was a great deal of soccer, tennis and golf. This “other” category accounted for $208.3 million of the handle.

The NBA playoffs were still taking place last month due to delays created by the Covid-19 pandemic, and basketball accounted for $98.8 million of the handle. The MLB regular season was still in full swing, allowing New Jersey books to take $115.3 million on baseball in September. It will be interesting to see if the handle grows again in October. The NBA Finals concluded on October 12, and the hockey season is now done and dusted, but there are plenty of big MLB playoff games and NFL regular season games taking place, so it could spike once more.

Meadowlands Leads the Way

Despite taking a record handle, New Jersey operators did not break the record for revenue, according to the report from the Division of Gaming Enforcement. They reported revenue of $45.1 million, which amounts to a 6% hold rate, making it their third best month for revenue since the Garden State industry launched in the summer of 2018. Once again, the Meadowlands led the charge, with $28.2 million in revenue. Online wagers accounted for $25 million of that revenue. The Meadowlands hosts FanDuel and PointsBet on its license, and the bulk of that will have gone to market leader FanDuel.

Resorts Digital was a very distant second, with $4.8 million in revenue. Resorts hosts DraftKings and FOX Bet. DraftKings is FanDuel’s big rival in the battle for the number one spot in the US sports betting industry, while FOX Bet is now a sister site to FanDuel after parent company Flutter Entertainment completed a $6 billion takeover of The Stars Group. Borgata, which hosts BetMGM, was third on $4.1 million, and Monmouth Park – which partners William Hill, TheScore and PlaySugarHouse – was fourth on $3.5 million.

Promising Results

It was a strong month all-round for New Jersey operators. They held $85.1 million on online casino gaming bets, and a further $2.55 million from online poker games. The Golden Nugget, which hosts Betfair, PlaySugarHouse and BetAmerica, led the way with $26 million, ahead of Borgataand Resorts Digital. Land-based casino revenue also shot up. They benefited from Labor Day and the return of indoor dining, which was limited to 25% of its normal capacity, but which allowed casinos to build up some momentum.

“Casino win was 85 percent of last September’s performance, aided by the reopening of casino restaurants on September 4, and the resumption of food and beverage service on casino floors,” said James Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. “These results were promising in the midst of continuing travel advisories that decrease visits from out of state, as well as restrictions on capacity, amenities and entertainment that have made 2020 not reasonably comparable to last year.”

Sports betting is not quite as big as online casino gaming for the state, but it is growing, and it has almost hit $3.3 billion already this year – despite being decimated for several months by the pandemic. For the first nine months of 2020, New Jersey’s betting handle is up 10% compared to the same period in 2019, and revenue has increased 17% to $223.1 million.

Indiana and Iowa Report Surging Demand

New Jersey was not the only state to report robust sports betting growth during September. Indiana also benefited from a packed sporting calendar, which helped it set a new state record of $208.5 million in handle during the month. The Hoosier State has a population of just 6 million, so that is an impressive performance. It represents the first time that the handle has smashed through the $200 million barrier, and it also amounts to a 22.7% increase on the $169 million they took in August. The previous record was $187.2 million, set in February.

Indiana books held revenue of $14.2 million, which was up 45% on the $9.4 million they held in August. That should amount to roughly $1.4 million in taxes for the state, which is another record. DraftKings launched before FanDuel in Indiana, and it remains the market leader there. Its mobile app had a 43.1% share of the market in September, followed by FanDuel with 27.2% and then BetMGM with 6.3%. BetRivers was the fourth most popular online sportsbook in Indiana, followed by PointsBet. More than four-fifths of all sports wagers were placed online during September.

Iowa also reported a 44% increase when it revealed its sports betting handle figures for September. Its 18 operators took a combined handle of $72.4 million, of which around $50 million came from mobile betting platforms. “There’s no question that people are wagering on college and professional football at a higher clip than what they were at this time last year,” said Brian Ohorilko, administrator for the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.

Over in Washington, D.C., William Hill continues to wipe the floor with GambetDC. That is pretty ridiculous, as William Hill has just one land-based betting terminal at the Capital One Arena, whereas GambetDC has the exclusive rights to run mobile sports wagering across the entire District. Yet GambetDC offers poor odds, and it has proven unpopular among bettors. William Hill took $12.2 million in bets during September and held $1.3 million, whereas GambetDC could only manage $3.3 million handle and $500,000 revenue.

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