Can NJ Overtake Nevada As Top US Sports Betting Market? Gov. Murphy Says Yes!

Updated on February 14, 2020
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Nevada leading US sports betting — no more!

The year 2018 brought with it a major victory for sports fans nationwide, less so for the Nevada sports betting industry.

As a result of the May 14, 2018, repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act (PASPA), the virtual monopoly on legal sports betting in the United States that Nevada had enjoyed for many years wasn’t just threatened.

It came to a crashing end.

In fact, as of this writing, with PASPA no longer an obstacle, seven other states, in the following order, quickly passed the necessary legislation so that they, too, could offer legal sports betting on single games:

  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • Mississippi
  • West Virginia
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island

Over the course of the next few years, or maybe even sooner, the number of states where sports betting will be legal should increase substantially. Many other states either already have legislation in the works or are seriously considering it.

But none of these developments would have been possible without the leadership and persistence of New Jersey in paving the way for the Supreme Court to finally make its landmark decision.

NJ may pass Nevada as sports betting leader

During the less than a year that sports betting has been legal in New Jersey, gamblers in that state have wagered more than $2.3 billion. That places New Jersey second in legal sports betting revenue only to Nevada, whose intake for 2018 exceeded 5 billion.

However, a huge segment of the potential NJ gambling websites and sports betting market is still untapped. That is what led NJ Gov. Phil Murphy to be extremely optimistic about the future of sports betting in this state.

Murphy anticipates that by as soon as 2020, NJ could actually surpass Nevada as the top US sports betting market.

Speaking at the Betting on Sports America conference that took place at the Meadowlands in April, Gov. Murphy had this to say:

Nevada is clearly in our sights. We can overtake it as early as next year.”

Murphy is not the only one making this projection

Some people might think that Murphy’s brazen statement is no more than wishful thinking. After all, Las Vegas has been virtually synonymous with casino-based sportsbooks since the 1970s. By contrast, NJ online sports betting didn’t even become an option until 2018.

However, several prominent sports betting analysts agree with Murphy and have echoed the same sentiments.

Gambling analyst Chris Grove of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, another Betting on Sports America conference speaker, acknowledged that “it’s possible that New Jersey could become the top market next year.”

Jim Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, who spoke at the April conference as well, said that “the current trends put New Jersey in a good place.”

NJ to dethrone Nevada as US sports betting king

The aforementioned speakers also offered some compelling arguments to back up their predictions.

Population advantage

New Jersey has almost 9 million residents. That’s about three times the population of Nevada. Gambling in Nevada is primarily tourist-driven.

Out-of-state traffic

More specifically, drive-in traffic from New York and other nearby states where sports betting is either not yet legal or still in its infancy. Any would be sports bettor in NYC who so desires can simply drive through the Lincoln Tunnel and minutes later bet on sports legally.

One option is the sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack. However, many drivers don’t even leave their car because they can make the same sports bets on their smartphone.

In addition, many sports bettors drive to New Jersey from Pennsylvania.  While sports betting has been legalized in Pennsylvania, the options there are much more limited.  A short drive to New Jersey solves the problem.

Of course, after Pennsylvania expands its sports betting options and sports betting becomes legal in New York as well, this big advantage that New Jersey offers will diminish.

Wide choice of sportsbooks, including superior mobile sports betting products

NJ sports bettors don’t need to limit themselves to just a handful of places. Eight of the nine existing Atlantic City casinos and two NJ racetracks — Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands — provide full-service sportsbooks on the premises.

In addition, 24/7 online or mobile sports betting is currently an option at 13 other NJ-based sportsbooks.

You can check NJ Gambling Websites for the complete list.

Additional advantages to betting on sports in New Jersey

As someone who has been taking advantage of what New Jersey sportsbooks have to offer, I would like to add other big pluses that the Sports Betting America conference speakers didn’t mention.

Extra perks for betting at Atlantic City casino sportsbooks

Most of the Atlantic City-based sportsbooks, and I would think the racetrack sportsbooks, too, are not just holes in the wall where you place and cash bets.

You can sit down on a comfortable chair or sofa, or at the bar, if you prefer, and mingle and socialize with other sports bettors while simultaneously watching all of the games you have bet on large screen HD TVs.

At some sportsbooks, you can also order food and drinks and have them brought to you tableside.

A few of these sportsbooks also have a decent comp program for sports bettors. I particularly like the Caesars-owned sportsbooks (Harrah’s and Bally’s) where drinks are free to anyone betting $50 or more.

In addition, all reward and tier credits that a player earns from any participating casino or sportsbook are linked. So I can draw upon my saved comps and order free food while I’m watching the games as well.

Extra perks for betting at NJ online or mobile sportsbooks

In addition, bettors who prefer the convenience of online or mobile betting can take advantage of some great special promotions exclusively for them.

For example, in my April 30 post, I describe an ongoing promotion that Golden Nugget Sports and Casino offers to first-time sports bettors. It entails making an initial wager in the total amount of $50.

The bet can be either a regular straight bet or in-play bet on any single game for which a betting line is posted (but not the NBA). If the bet wins, of course, the player is paid accordingly. But if the bet loses, Golden Nugget will issue a full $50 credit to bet on another game!

First-time bettors using the Tropicana sportsbook mobile app also get a free $50 bet to match their own. And they get the free bet even if their initial cash bet wins!

Caesars Casino & Sports offers an even better deal. Players signing up with the site for the first time can select the welcome bonus for sports in lieu of the casino welcome bonus. Make an initial deposit and single wager of up to $300. Caesars will match it dollar for dollar to use on another sports bet of your choice.

In addition to these ongoing promotions, which new players can access any time, individual online sportsbooks may offer limited time only special promotions for existing players.

Summary and conclusion

Having to face one obstacle after another in its long battle to get PASPA overturned could have caused New Jersey to give up prematurely. But that didn’t happen. Similarly, if the state now wants to set its sights on becoming the No. 1 place to bet sports in America, I can’t imagine competition from other states getting in the way.

No other state that’s a newcomer to legal sports betting comes close to New Jersey in sports betting revenue, and I don’t envision that changing. So that leaves Nevada as the only real roadblock. But I share Gov. Murphy’s belief that New Jersey is more than up for the challenge.

The response of NJ players to the availability of sports betting both onsite and online has been phenomenal, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t continue to surpass expectations the rest of this year.

Assuming that happens, and New Jersey does indeed become the top US sports betting market, the extra revenue pouring into the state wouldn’t be the only benefit. In the words of Jim Plousis:

It would mean bragging rights, not just for the country, but for the whole world in terms of making this the place people in this industry want to be.”

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