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US – Two-year low for New Jersey sportsbooks

By - 18 May 2020

With few sports to bet on and retail sportsbooks shuttered completely, New Jersey’s sportsbooks were out of about $450m in bets in April, according to PlayNJ estimates. But while sportsbooks and Atlantic City casinos languish, revenue at online casinos and poker rooms continue to skyrocket, hitting a record $80m in April.

“Seeing New Jersey’s retail sportsbook handle at zero and its land-based casinos generate no revenue is jarring, laying bare just how much these shutdowns are costing the industry,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com. “The jump in revenue from online casinos and poker is welcome, but there is no way yet for it to fully make up for the revenue lost by Atlantic City’s casinos and sportsbooks.”

According to official reporting released Wednesday, New Jersey’s sportsbooks collected just $54.6m in bets in April. Announced ahead of the second anniversary of the PASPA decision that opened the door to legal gambling in New Jersey, which is Friday, sportsbooks posted the lowest statewide total since $40.7m was wagered in July 2018. That was the first full month of legal sports betting and before online sportsbooks had launched.

April’s handle was down 82.6 per cent from $313.7m in April 2019 and down 70 per cent from $181.9m in March. Under normal circumstances, New Jersey sportsbooks would have generated some $500m in bets in April, according to PlayNJ.com estimates.

New Jersey’s handle yielded $2.6m in gross revenue, down 87.7 per cent from $21.2m in April 2019 and 80.3 per cent from $13.2m in March 2020. April’s revenue generated $356,726 in state taxes.

“This is the US gaming industry’s first full glimpse of the dramatic effect these shutdowns are having, because New Jersey was mature enough last year to offer a true year-over-year comparison,” Mr. Gouker said. “The picture for the industry is not pretty, and that will continue until sports leagues figure out a way to reopen.”

With retail sportsbooks shut down entirely in April—potentially wiping out more than $50m of in-person bets, online sportsbooks accounted for New Jersey’s entire handle. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet led the market with $1.65m in gross revenue, down from $5.7m in March. FanDuel was followed in revenue by:

Resorts Digital/DraftKings/Fox Bet was second followed by Monmouth/William Hill/Sugarhouse/TheScore and then BetMGM/Borgata.

Nontraditional sports have drawn surprising betting interest. Bets on sports that New Jersey categories as “other” than football, baseball, and basketball generated $21.7m in April, up from $14.8m in April 2019. And with NASCAR planning on a May start and the PGA Tour planning to tee off in June, bettors could soon have more options on less obscure sports. Meanwhile, baseball and the NBA continue to search for a workable solution to restart their seasons.

“The rise in bets on nontraditional sports has been interesting, and with auto racing and golf appearing closer to starting, that trend could increase,” Mr. Gouker said. “There are reasons for optimism, too. Hopefully, we will look back at April and see that it was the clear low point.”

Online casinos and poker rooms offered the lone bright spot in the state’s gaming industry. Combined they generated a record $79.96m in April revenue, up 118.6 per cent from $36.6m in April 2019 and easily topping the $64.8m mark set last month.

The increase in online revenue is much needed. But the $43.4m in year-over-year gains in online casino and poker revenue replaces just 20.9 per cent of the $207.6m in revenue that land-based casinos in Atlantic City generated in April 2019.

Online casinos and poker generated a record $2.7m per day during the 30 days, up from $2.1m per day in March. That revenue yielded $12m in state taxes.

“Such a dramatic shift to digital gambling could permanently alter the market, even after land-based casinos open,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for PlayNJ.com. “The longer the current closures go on the higher chance there is for a more permanent shift in bettors’ preferences for digital gaming.”

The Golden Nugget once again topped the market with a record $27.6 million in revenue, up from $21.3m in March, followed by Resorts AC ($16.2m) and Borgata ($15.9m).

Online casinos generated $74.8m in revenue. Poker—which has almost tripled February’s revenue—posted a record $5.15m in April. That was up from $3.6m in March.

“Just three months ago it looked like online poker may all but disappear, now it is breaking revenue records that have stood for six or seven years,” Mr. Ramsey said. “That shows just how much the market has changed in such a short time.”

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