With few sports to bet on and retail sportsbooks shuttered completely, New Jersey’s sportsbooks were out of about $450 million 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 $80 million 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 $54.6 million 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 $40.7 million 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% from $313.7 million in April 2019 and down 70% from $181.9 million in March. Under normal circumstances, New Jersey sportsbooks would have generated some $500 million in bets in April, according to PlayNJ.com estimates.
New Jersey’s handle yielded $2.6 million in gross revenue, down 87.7% from $21.2 million in April 2019 and 80.3% from $13.2 million in March 2020. April’s revenue generated $356,726 in state taxes.
“This is the U.S. 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,” 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 $50 million of in-person bets—online sportsbooks accounted for New Jersey’s entire handle. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet led the market with $1.65 million in gross revenue, down from $5.7 million in March. FanDuel was followed in revenue by:
- Resorts Digital/DraftKings/Fox Bet ($604,359, down from $5.1 million in March).
- Monmouth/William Hill/Sugarhouse/TheScore ($185,627, down from $849,236)
- BetMGM/Borgata ($93,486, up/down from $609,235)
- Ocean Casino/William Hill ($91,069, down from $635,620)
- Hard Rock/Bet365/Unibet ($43,892, down from $167,314)
- Caesars Sportsbook/888sport ($20,095, down from $44,413)
- Tropicana/William Hill (-$585, down from $17,180)
- Golden Nugget/BetAmerica (-$5,507, down from $143,209)
Nontraditional sports have drawn surprising betting interest. Bets on sports that New Jersey categorizes as “other” than football, baseball, and basketball generated $21.7 million in April, up from $14.8 million 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,” 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 set more records
Online casinos and poker rooms offered the lone bright spot in the state’s gaming industry. Combined they generated a record $79.96 million in April revenue, up 118.6% from $36.6 million in April 2019 and easily topping the $64.8 million mark set last month.
The increase in online revenue is much needed. But the $43.4 million in year-over-year gains in online casino and poker revenue replaces just 20.9% of the $207.6 million in revenue that land-based casinos in Atlantic City generated in April 2019.
Online casinos and poker generated a record $2.7 million per day during the 30 days, up from $2.1 million per day in March. That revenue yielded $12 million 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 $21.3 million in March, followed by Resorts AC ($16.2 million) and Borgata ($15.9 million).
Online casinos generated $74.8 million in revenue. Poker—which has almost tripled February’s revenue—posted a record $5.15 million in April. That was up from $3.6 million 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,” Ramsey said. “That shows just how much the market has changed in such a short time.”
For more information and analysis on regulated sports betting and online gaming in New Jersey, visit PlayNJ.com/news.
About the PlayUSA.com Network:
The PlayUSA.com Network is a leading source for news, analysis, and research related to the market for regulated online gaming in the United States. With a presence in over a dozen states, PlayUSA.com and its state-focused branches produce daily original reporting, publish in-depth research, and offer player advocacy tools related to the advancement of safe, licensed, and legal online gaming options for consumers. Based in Las Vegas, the PlayUSA Network is independently owned and operated, with no affiliations to any casino — commercial, tribal, online, or otherwise.