The start of the NFL season has driven a 75% increase in sports wagering across Delaware and led to a healthy upswing in operators’ profits. The state saw $16.8 million in wagers from August 27 to September 30 after the NFL and college football seasons started, the equivalent of $481,000 per day. That compares to just $276,000 per day in the previous period, as the state’s handle stood at $7.7 million from July 29 to August 26. Delaware was the first state to introduce sports betting after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA and it is now starting to reap the rewards.
In the past couple of months, Delaware Park has taken $11.6 million in sports bets and earned $2.2 million revenue. Dover Downs has seen $3.3 million wagered and taken $608,000 in revenue and Harrington Raceway has taken $2 million worth of sports wagers and held $378,000 revenue. The state enjoys a hefty tax on that revenue, and it can reinvest it in public services. The Delaware figures are sure to pale in comparison to those seen in New Jersey, which recorded $100 million in sports wagers in August, with a vast upturn expected in September now that the football season is underway. It will release its September figures later this month.
That upward curve should continue into October and November, coinciding with the start of the NBA and NHL seasons. Those months have always been two of the biggest for sports wagering in Nevada, the only state to legally accept sports bets before PASPA was overturned. Total handle in September, October and November often ends up north of $500 million in the Silver State. New Jersey has a far larger population than Nevada and the potential there is huge. Nevada may be home to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas and it may welcome a number of Californians into its sportsbooks each month, but New Jersey has Atlantic City and it is also on the doorstep of New York, so it has a legitimate chance of overtaking Nevada.
There are several pro hockey teams located in or around the Garden State: the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers. The NHL season has just begun and hockey fans are likely to flock to New Jersey’s physical sportsbooks and take advantage of regulated online sports betting. The NBA season starts on October 16, and betting on basketball should prove to be huge in the Garden State as there are three teams in the area: the Philadelphia 76ers, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks. The $100 million wagered in August came despite it being a quiet time in the US sporting calendar and having only a limited number of sportsbooks up and running, so the sky is the limit in New Jersey.
However, Pennsylvania has an even larger population and it could go on to eclipse the Garden State. Right now if its residents want to place legal sports wagers they have to go across the border to either Delaware or New Jersey, but that will soon change. This week the state’s Gaming Control Board granted its first two sports betting licences to the operators of the Parx Casino in Bensalem and the Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County, which is owned by gaming giant Penn National.
Greenwood Gaming owns Parx and it will also gain a licence to operate a physical sportsbook at its South Philadelphia Turf Club, in the heart of Philly’s stadium district. Legal Sports Report was at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting this week and it delves into the hoops Greenwood must jump through in order to gain that licence. Both the Parx and the Hollywood sportsbooks should be up and running by November.
The next step for Pennsylvania is online sports wagering and Greenwood says it hopes to start offering that in January. As is the case in New Jersey, it will be available to all residents of the state. “Online, there’s a lot more pieces to the puzzle,” said Tony Ricci, chief executive of Greenwood. “There are a multitude of vendors involved, and they all need to be licensed and tested.” He fears that online sports betting will detract from land-based businesses, but the legislature decided to create an internet gaming option for the industry and it has to roll with the punches. In the meantime it hopes to offer in-play sports wagering via smartphones at its physical casino, as kiosks are not fast enough to handle the cut and thrust of live betting.
Pennsylvania operators were reluctant to apply for licences due to the $10 million upfront fee and 36% revenue tax the state is imposing. But now that Penn National and Greenwood have taken the plunge it has sparked Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester, SugarHouse Casino in Fishtown and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh into action. All three have just applied for licences and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will consider those applications on October 31.
With all the noise around these eastern seaboard states, it is easy to forget about Nevada, that grand dame of the US industry. But it is still holding its own and it has just reported that its sports betting handle in August reached $247.6 million. That is an increase of $12.6 million on August 2017, which is impressive when you consider that Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor locked horns in the Silver State that month. That fight alone was said to have boosted Nevada’s handle by $65 million in August 2017, so the August 2018 performance was very strong.
This September saw the Canelo Alvarez versus Gennady Golovkin fight take place, so the handle is tipped to shoot up again, and Nevada will also benefit from the NFL season beginning this month. Last season the Vegas Golden Knights – the city’s first big sports team – went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their debut season, and betting on Gerard Gallant’s men is expected to be huge once again this time around.
With sports wagering also underway in Mississippi and West Virginia, and Rhode Island soon to join the party, a colossal regulated industry is gaining serious traction across the US. It should create a domino effect and before long America is expected to have the largest regulated sports betting market in the world.
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