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US – New Jersey sports books surprise in May but still fall by $400m

By - 15 June 2020

New Jersey’s online sportsbooks more than doubled the state’s combined handle in May, but still fell short of an ordinary May by nearly $400m, according to PlayNJ estimates. This while online casinos and poker rooms continue to boom, buoying the Garden State’s gaming industry.

“May’s increase is a positive sign, but until major professional sports resume and Atlantic City casinos reopen, the gaming industry will look nowhere near normal,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com. “But optimism can be found with DraftKings, which has become a darling of Wall Street since it became a publicly traded company. That shows just how much confidence investors have in the future of sports betting.”

New Jersey’s online sportsbooks managed to boost the state’s monthly handle to $117.8m, up 115.8 per cent from $54.6m in April, according to official reporting released Friday. But May’s handle is down 63.1 per cent from $318.9m in May 2019 and still well short of the more than $500m in bets that would have been made in an ordinary May, according to PlayNJ estimates.

May’s bets produced a surprising $9.9m in gross revenue — more than tripling the $2.6m in April 2020 — yielding $1.3m in state taxes.

Sports categorised as “other” than football, basketball, and baseball generated $95.4 million in bets in May, up from $88m in May 2019.

“The bottom-line sports betting numbers aren’t pretty, but there is a silver lining in how online sportsbooks have managed to survive these shutdowns,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for PlayNJ.com. “New Jersey’s operators have been creative in keeping bettors engaged and sportsbooks generating revenue, even when fringe sports are the only real attraction. Thanks to some imagination, it appears online sportsbooks will help the industry get through this.”

Without retail sportsbooks, online sportsbooks were the only revenue generator for the state. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet led the market with $4.3m in gross revenue.

“We are just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr. Gouker said. “Retail sports betting will take time to return to something resembling normal. But the path to recovery for online sportsbooks is simple: Sports need to come back. That is finally starting to happen.”

Meanwhile, online casinos and poker rooms rose to a new monthly record in May with a combined $85.9m, up 7.5 per cent from the record $79.96m in April and up 134.7% from $36.6m in May 2019.

Online casinos and poker generated a record $2.8m per day during the 31 days in May, up from $2.7m per day in April. That revenue yielded $12.9m in state taxes. The Golden Nugget’s dominance of the market continued with $29.1m in revenue, up from $27.6m in April.

“Land-based gambling revenue almost certainly won’t return in June, and it will take some time to recover even when it does come back while Atlantic City casinos presumably navigate reduced capacity and relatively weak tourism demand,” Mr. Ramsey said. “Because of that, online casinos will be relied upon to bridge the revenue gap, even once land-based casinos reopen. Even if that online revenue can’t replace what has been lost from the shutdown, the overall gaming industry would be in much worse shape without it.”

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