Regulated sports betting is soaring in popularity across New Jersey as the handle rose to $95.6 million during the month of August. That is a sharp increase on the $41 million that Garden State residents wagered on sports in July and many are now betting from the comfort of their own homes. DraftKings’ app launched on 1st August, PlayMGM’s app joined the party on August 22 and the PlaySugarHouse app began life on 23rd August. Despite having just three brands up and running for only part of the month, with limited products and deposit options, the online channel accounted for more than a third of all bets.
The Online Explosion
There are now many more online operators to choose from, including William Hill, 888 Sport, FanDuel and Caesars, while the football season is now well underway, so the handle in September is bound to shoot up once again. In well established gambling markets, the majority of bets are placed online and that is likely to be the case in New Jersey in the not too distant future. But physical sportsbooks should also continue thriving as they provide theatre and an exciting environment replete with food, drinks, entertainment and the buzz of fellow punters hollering at TV screens.
Of the $95.6 million wagered in New Jersey in August, the operators kept revenue of $9.2 million. The sportsbook at Meadowlands was the most successful, accounting for half of all the revenue made by physical sportsbooks in August. FanDuel, which is now controlled by Paddy Power Betfair, runs that book and it is clearly benefiting from its close proximity to Manhattan and the home it shares with the New York Giants and Jets. The next best performing land-based book was the William Hill operation at Monmouth Park, which earned a revenue of $898,017, followed closely by Borgata with $805,526. There are now also physical books at Bally’s Wild Wild West, Golden Nugget, Harrah’s, Ocean Resort and Resorts, so Atlantic City has become a major destination for sports betting fans. The casinos are also benefiting from additional sales of food and beverages, and the industry is creating plenty of jobs and boosting the state’s coffers.
Bumper Betting Revenue
New Jersey collects an 8.5% tax on land-based revenue and a 13% tax on online revenue, assuming the digital books have fewer overheads. DraftKings was first to market with a sportsbook app and it has already taken more than a million bets. In August it made as much revenue as the best performing land-based operator, the FanDuel site at Meadowlands, and chief revenue officer Matthew Kalish is excited about its future prospects now that the football season has started. He reported that 100,000 bets were placed during season-opening Sunday.
“It was a massive spike from what we were seeing in August,” Kalish told Reuters. Over the opening weekend, 51% of DraftKings’ sports betting customers placed bets, compared to 35% for most days in August. Around 90% of DraftKings’ customers have returned to bet again, Kalish said. “It shows a lot of positivity going into the NFL season,” he added.
The SugarHouse team reported that betting doubled in volume when the NFL season began, with live wagering proving extremely popular. In established sports betting markets, in-play has long since overtaken pre-match wagering and that is again likely to be the case in New Jersey.
“Online sports betting appears to be as substantial an opportunity as forecasts suggested,” said Dermot Smurfit, chief executive at FanDuel supplier GAN. “Unlike Internet gaming forecasts back in 2013, this time the forecasters look to have got things right. Online sports betting revenue will likely equal or eclipse retail sports betting revenue in September.” David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, added: “With the new casinos that opened in June and the addition of sports wagering options, including online alternatives, the gaming industry has experienced growth rates in July and August that have not been achieved in years. It is an exciting time for Atlantic City and we look forward to continued revenue growth going forward.”
These certainly are exciting times for sports betting enthusiasts in the Garden State, as increased competition is providing them with more attractive odds and bonuses. 888 is a new player to the market and it has a terrific sports betting platform provided by Kambi. That covers a huge range of markets from across the globe, with plenty of niche soccer matches and obscure sports, and a massive amount of betting options within a single game, along with a number of live betting possibilities. “As the only operator active in the country’s three regulated online gaming states, 888 is already a recognised brand in the US and I’m confident that, with a Kambi Sportsbook, 888sport will establish itself as a successful multi-state sports wagering operator,” said Kambi chief executive Kristian Nylen.
The Stars Group, which snapped up British giant Sky Bet earlier this year, has launched its popular BetStars app in New Jersey too. “As one of the largest online gaming companies in the world with millions of customers worldwide, we have successfully launched BetStars in regulated markets across Europe and look forward to expanding and enhancing our New Jersey BetStars offering,” said Matt Primeaux, the company’s senior vice president for US strategy and operations.
Other States in on the Action
Over in Mississippi, the state took in just $54,000 in tax on revenue in August, which disappointed some policymakers. But nearly $10 million was bet legally in the first month since launch, and it should also enjoy a huge boost now that the NFL and college football seasons are underway. The FanDuel-powered sportsbook also launched in West Virginia last week in time for the new season, so the burgeoning industry is definitely gathering pace.
However, not everyone is enthusiastic about it. Colleges fear skulduggery like fixing games, shaving points and selling information about injuries. “Your mind goes to the worst possible scenario,” said Phil Esten, deputy athletic director at Penn State. “You think about where student athletes could be influenced, where somebody tries to intercept them as they’re going from study hall to dorm room to cafeteria, to try to get information from them.” Of course, this has always been the case due to the enormous black market for gambling that has prevailed for decades in the US. But Pennsylvania is poised to grant its first sports betting licence to Penn National’s Hollywood Casino, drawing the issue into sharper focus for Esten. Naysayers argue that it is only a matter of time before there is a scandal involving a college player cheating, so the ride towards a widespread, regulated sports betting industry will not be without its bumps.
Kristian heads up the content and SEO team at Digital Fuel having worked in digital marketing for ten years. He’s as passionate about creative content as he is about Brighton & Hove Albion FC and when he’s not following football he’s writing about Brighton’s bustling pub scene