New Jersey sportsbooks surged on the strength of March Madness, including the largest retail handle in more than two years, but fell well short of the first $1 billion wagering month in U.S. sports betting history, perhaps delaying the milestone at least until football season, according to PlayNJ, which analyzes and researches the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market. This while online casino gaming continued shatter records in March, setting a fresh high with more than $113 million in revenue.
“March represents a much-needed bounce back after a somewhat disappointing February,” said Dustin Gouker lead analyst for PlayNJ.com. “It will probably be until football season before the state gets that first $1 billion month, but New Jersey’s online market has made a habit of outperforming expectations. Longer term, though, New Jersey’s market faces serious challenges, most notably New York’s expected launch of online sports betting later this year.”
New Jersey’s sportsbooks accepted $859.6 million in wagers in March, according to official data released Friday. That is the state’s highest monthly handle in a month without football, and a sharp difference from the $181.9 million handle in March 2020, a month marred by pandemic-related shutdowns. It is also up 15.7% from the $743 million handle in February.
Including March’s handle, New Jersey has posted the eight highest-volume months in U.S. sports betting history.
March’s wagers produced $60.8 million in revenue. That is up 360.9% from $13.2 million in March 2020, and up 31.5% from $46.2 million February. March’s win resulted in $7.7 million in taxes for the state.
The leap forward in March was expected with the return of the NCAA Tournament, which was immensely popular in 2019 in New Jersey but was canceled in 2020. To that end, basketball accounted for $441.7 million of the state’s handle in March, up from $320.3 million in January and $325.8 million in February. With 51.4%, basketball accounted for the largest share of March’s handle of any sport by far.
Retail sportsbooks generated $79.5 million in bets, the highest volume for retail books since January 2019.
“The popularity of college basketball is what led to the resurgence of retail sportsbooks, good news for a segment that hasn’t seen much over the last year,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “If New Jersey allowed betting on in-state college teams, the run by Rutgers could have given them an additional boost. Regardless, it was an excellent month for sportsbooks.”
Online betting accounts for 90.8%, or $780.1 million, of the state’s total handle in March. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet topped the online market with $28.5 million in gross revenue, up from $24.9 million in February.
FanDuel was followed in revenue by:
Resorts Digital/DraftKings/Fox Bet ($14.1 million, up from $7.7 million in February)
BetMGM/Borgata ($6.5 million, up from $4.4 million)
Ocean Casino/William Hill ($2.8 million, up from $2 million)
Monmouth/William Hill/SugarHouse/TheScore ($2.2 million, down from $2.5 million)
Hard Rock/Bet365/Unibet ($1.4 million, up from $1 million)
Caesars Sportsbook/888sport ($721,776, up from $317,766)
Tropicana/William Hill ($142,633, up from $71,758)
Golden Nugget/BetAmerica ($111,453, up from -$37,143)
Meadowlands/FanDuel led all retail books with $2.8 million in revenue.
“New York’s decision to create a closed market was good news for operators who are heavily vested in New Jersey,” Gouker said. “By closing the market, the select few operators that will operate in New York will have to focus on profitability just to meet the state’s high revenue split. That will leave a window open for some operators to offer more competitive products and promote more aggressively than any operator in New York.”
Online casinos and poker
For all the attention paid to New Jersey’s sportsbooks, online casinos and poker remain the biggest winner in the state. Online casino games and poker generated a U.S. record $113.7 million in revenue, up 75.4% from $64.8 million in March 2020, which was the first month of a year-long expansion. March’s revenue topped the previous record of $103.8 million set in January.
Online casinos and poker generated a record $3.7 million per day over the 31 days in March, up from $3.4 million per day over 28 days in February. The result for the state was $17.1 million in taxes.
Revenue from online casinos was $111 million, up from $61.2 million in March 2020. Online poker produced $2.7 million, down from $3.6 million in March 2020.
For the first time in years Golden Nugget was not the market leader in March. Borgata generated a market record $36.2 million in revenue on online casino games and poker, up from $25.7 million in February. Golden Nugget generated $31.8 million in March revenue, up from $27.9 million in February.
“Borgata’s increasing focus on and success in the online market shows how the pandemic changed the dynamic for online casinos,” Ramsey said. “Even when we get past this pandemic, I don’t think gamblers will log into online casinos any less. Instead, this year-long surge points to a long-lasting market shift.
For more information and analysis on regulated sports betting and online gaming in New Jersey, visit PlayNJ.com/news.