Futures betting and nontraditional sports helped New Jersey’s sportsbooks avoid an early summer lull in June, while online casinos and poker continued to lead the state’s gaming industry. June’s $165 million handle was good news, even if it still meant sportsbooks took in $300 million less in bets than an ordinary June, according to PlayNJ estimates. And with baseball and the NBA season set to open in late July, retail casinos reopening, and significant investments in online casinos and poker, better days are nearing for the Garden State’s gaming industry.
“June is typically slow for sports betting so any growth is a surprise, and it appears July will return the gaming industry to something more resembling normal,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com. “New Jersey will still have longer-term issues. It will take time to recover, and the gaming industry will likely be affected for as long as the world is suffering from this health crisis. But for now, optimism in the industry is growing.”
New Jersey’s handle rose 40.1% to $165 million — all from online betting — from $117.8 million in May, according to official reporting released Tuesday. June 2020 was down 39.6% from $273.2 million in June 2019.
Gross revenue in June rose to $12.6 million from May’s $9.9 million and was actually more than the $9.7 million in revenue generated in June 2019. June’s revenue yielded $1.7 million in state taxes.
Sports categorized by New Jersey as “other” than football, basketball, and baseball generated a shocking $125.8 million in bets in June, up from $95.4 million in May. And bets on the three major U.S. sports ticked up, mainly on the power of futures betting on baseball and the NBA ahead of an expected July return of both.
“The robust betting on nontraditional sports since the sports world has shuttered has been a surprise, but it will never completely make up for the loss of major sports,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for PlayNJ.com. “Futures will continue to gain steam, fueled by pent-up demand, as the opening of baseball, basketball, and hockey nears. If plans continue to move forward, July and August should produce a significant leap.”
With Atlantic City casinos closed in June, online sportsbooks were again the only revenue generator for the state. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet led the market with $6.2 million in gross revenue, up from $4.3 million in May. FanDuel was followed in revenue by:
- Resorts Digital/DraftKings/Fox Bet ($3.9 million, up from $3.8 million in May)
- BetMGM/Borgata ($881,435, up from $701,283)
- Ocean Casino/William Hill ($691,135, up from $439,967)
- Monmouth/William Hill/Sugarhouse/TheScore ($593,548, up from $466,142)
- Hard Rock/Bet365/Unibet ($450,589, up from $230,004)
- Caesars Sportsbook/888sport ($43,561, down from $107,171)
- Tropicana/William Hill ($5,245, down from $23,476)
- Golden Nugget/BetAmerica ($66,533, up from $54,433)
“As strong as online sports betting continues to be, the reopening of Atlantic City is crucial to healing the industry, even with restrictions,” Gouker said. “It will help generate new revenue, of course. And in doing so, operators are hopeful that it will help the industry steady itself.”
Online casinos and poker level off
The rapid growth of online casinos and poker cooled in June, combining to generate $84.9 million in revenue, down 1.2% from the record $85.9 million in May but up 123.1% from $38.1 million in May 2019. Together, online casinos and poker generated $2.8 million a day in the 30 days of June — on par with May — and yielded $12.8 million in state taxes.
Online casino games alone have grown revenue from $50.2 million in February to $81.4 million in June. Online poker has jumped from $1.8 million in February to $3.5 million in June.
Even with retail casinos reopening, many remain bullish on the future of online gambling. Golden Nugget Online Gaming, which dominated the market again in June with $29.15 million in revenue, announced plans to go public. And last week, MGM Resorts/GVC Holdings released its plan to invest $250 million more in its online platform.
“The Golden Nugget Online Gaming going public, in addition to the recent success of DraftKings stock, shows just how much interest investors have in the future of online gambling,” Gouker said. “Online gambling has proven its importance to the industry through this crisis. Even if the growth slows with the return of retail casinos, it will continue to be an enormously important vertical for the industry.”