Legalized sports betting has existed in New Jersey for only a little over a year. But the growth that has taken place during that time–both in the number of NJ sportsbooks and what they offer—has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Why NJ is capable of replacing Nevada as the No. 1 state for sports betting
On June 14, 2018, three days after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation permitting regulated sports betting in the State of New Jersey, legalized sports betting at NJ casinos and racetracks became a reality. But initially, only two places offered it: Borgata Race & Sportsbook and Monmouth Park.
As of this writing, NJ sports bettors can choose from 10 brick and mortar sportsbooks (or more precisely, 11, counting both the Race & Sports Book and the newer Moneyline at the Borgata) and 16 digital sportsbooks. For your convenience, we give you the complete list on NJ Gambling Websites.
New Jersey is already the undisputed leader in online and mobile sports betting
No other state, including Nevada–where sports betting has been legal for many years–comes close to offering as many online and mobile sports betting options. Furthermore, those who wish to make sports bets on their mobile device in Nevada must sign up at a retail sportsbook.
However, NJ bettors can open an account, make their initial deposit, and collect their sign-up bonus directly from their smartphone or tablet. Online and mobile betting accounts for nearly 80% of NJ sports betting.
But that is only one reason why even before the fall NFL season gets underway, multiple experts believe that Nevada’s long-standing reign as the undisputed sports betting leader in America will end. Possibly, even before the end of the year, New Jersey could overtake Nevada as the new sports betting capital of the US.
The NJ sports betting revenue for the first year speaks for itself
According to an August 25, 2019 article in The Press of Atlantic City, NJ sportsbooks took in over $3 billion in sports bets during their first 12 months of operation. Furthermore, in May, 2019, for the first time, the NJ monthly sports betting handle of $318.9 million surpassed the $317.3 million sports handle that Nevada reported.
These figures have led Alex Kostin, the founder of AmericanGambler.com, to make the following prediction:
“New Jersey, for the first time ever, will surpass Nevada’s betting handle during this NFL season.”
New Jersey sportsbooks are convenient to many more bettors than Nevada sportsbooks
While Nevada boasts many more land-based sportsbooks than New Jersey, the primarily Las Vegas-based tourist business is largely transient. In comparison, New Jersey sportsbooks can draw on a much larger resident and neighboring states population than Nevada sportsbooks.
As Kostin points out, the population of the two states, respectively, is 9 million vs. only 2.5 million. Then when you also factor in the close proximity of New Jersey to both NYC and Philadelphia, the potential size of the NJ sports betting market becomes even greater.
Multiple regions of Pennsylvania now offer legalized sports betting, too. But NJ sportsbooks offer more betting options and better amenities. That especially applies to the Atlantic City casino resorts, some of which also offer world-class dining and entertainment. Pennsylvania sportsbooks don’t even come close.
New York has also passed legislation permitting sports betting. But as of this writing, the option only exists upstate, not in New York City. In other words, for the foreseeable future, residents of NYC and surrounding communities who wish to place sports bets legally will still find traveling to New Jersey their most convenient option.
In fact, a mere 15-20 minute drive will suffice to cross the state border and place a legal sports bet on one’s smartphone or tablet.
Kostin believes that sports bettors from New York could account for up to 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports betting handle during the upcoming football season.
Chris Grove, managing director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, does not project a specific timetable as to when New Jersey’s sports betting handle will overtake Nevada’s. However, he believes that eventually, because NJ sportsbooks can draw on a much larger segment of the population, overtaking Nevada is “inevitable.”
During their inaugural season, the NJ sportsbooks were still a work in progress
Also keep in mind that some of the NJ sportsbooks did not open until well after the 2018-2019 football season had started. And even those that did open earlier, like any new venture, experienced a learning curve. In virtually every instance, players had to make do with a temporary sportsbook until the preparations to replace it with an enhanced permanent sportsbook were completed.
Meanwhile, the temporary facilities varied greatly in the quality of amenities they offered or lack thereof. Some of them didn’t even offer a place to watch the games. They included no amenities like tableside food and beverage service and in-play betting that would encourage players to linger around.
Subsequent noteworthy improvements should bring in even more traffic
Over the past few months, the nine existing Atlantic City sportsbooks and two racetrack sportsbooks have gone all out to prepare for the huge crowds expected throughout the football season.
Permanent sportsbooks, some of which include comfortable seating for 100 or more patrons, are now in place, along with on the premises food and beverage service and self-service kiosks. Some sportsbooks even offer suites and “fan caves” for players with deep pockets looking for the ultimate in high-end service.
Online and mobile sportsbooks have made their offerings a lot more attractive, too. First-time depositors can take advantage of generous sign-up bonuses like 100% deposit matches or risk-free bets. Some sportsbooks like Caesars Casino & Sports, BorgataSports, and PlayMGM frequently offer special promotions for existing players as well. A single wallet system makes it very easy and convenient for online and mobile casino players who wish to dabble in sports betting or vice versa.
Furthermore, NJ sportsbooks realize that many of their customers have never bet on sports before. To help make the activity less intimidating, they offer handy guides on how sports bets work and online tutorials that introduce newcomers to the basic sports betting terms and describe the various types of bets.
DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts in Atlantic City even offers a special “Ladies Night” from 7 to 10 p.m. every Friday. Women who are new to sports betting can enjoy drink and sushi specials while partaking in a “Sports Betting 101 lesson.”
Golden Nugget may be able to start taking basketball bets
One Atlantic City casino whose brick and mortar and online and mobile sportsbooks should experience a big surge in attendance this fall is Golden Nugget.
Until now, because Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta also owns the Houston Rockets, Golden Nugget owned NJ sportsbooks have been prohibited from accepting bets not just on Houston Rockets games, but any NBA games.
However, as reported by The Press of Atlantic City, on Monday, August 26, the NJ State Legislature passed a bill that would allow Golden Nugget to take wagers on NBA games involving teams other than the Houston Rockets. The bill still awaits Gov. Murphy’s approval before it can become law.
Assuming Murphy gives his okay, Golden Nugget’s sports betting handle should increase substantially. Whereas Golden Nugget has consistently led the competition in online casino gambling revenue, it has lagged behind in both land-based and online sports betting revenue.
Only Harrah’s Resort, which lacks its own online and mobile sports betting partner, has reported less revenue from sports betting for the January – July, 2019 period.
Moreover, the amount of money being legally bet in New Jersey on basketball to date ($854,58 million) exceeds that for any other sport, including football ($616.9 million).
So, clearly, Golden Nugget has felt the impact of not being able to offer any NBA bets at all. If it finally can, its sports betting handle should increase substantially for other sports, too, whose season overlaps with the long NBA season.
Despite all of the foregoing strong arguments pointing to the likelihood of Jersey dethroning Nevada as the sports betting king of the US, according to The Press of Atlantic City, some experts still harbor doubts.
For starters, in 2018, compared to nearly $1.8 billion being wagered on professional and college football at Nevada sportsbooks, bettors only wagered $502 million on football at NJ sportsbooks. This was the first time ever that the latter option even existed, and the NJ betting market is far from being saturated. However, New Jersey still has a big deficit to overcome.
Every weekend during football season, Las Vegas gets a huge influx of sports bettors
Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayNJ.com, acknowledged that “it is certainly possible for New Jersey to pass Nevada”, but described the NFL as “a different beast in Las Vegas.” As Gouker pointed out:
“People go (to Vegas) just for weekends, and they bet a lot on NFL and college football. It’s a little bit different dynamic just because it’s so big that it might be a little difficult for New Jersey to get past it.”
The rapid spread of legalized sports betting elsewhere could also impede New Jersey’s growth
Tom Barton, principal of the Sports Garten Network and host of the nationally syndicated show “WannaBet?! With Tom Barton,” makes another valid point. That is, as more and more other states join the fold and offer legalized sports betting in their jurisdictions, it will become harder for New Jersey to surpass Nevada.
Barton also thinks that Las Vegas is better positioned than New Jersey to take in much more money on future bets, such as which team will win the Super Bowl. In his opinion, New Jersey might top Nevada for “maybe a month or two, but it’s going to be tough to sustain it.”
Barton went on to say that “even if it’s close on a month-to-month basis, the futures plays (in Nevada) are going to trump (New Jersey).”
Conclusion: Can NJ overtake Nevada as the King of Sports Betting? Maybe.
As Kostin and Gouker both point out, one factor in New Jersey’s favor is that its sports betting market is still growing as opposed to being fully developed like the Nevada sports betting market. In other words, NJ sports betting should continue to grow. But it’s difficult to predict by how much.
Like almost any other gambling-related outcome, the answer to the question can NJ replace Nevada as the No. 1 state for legalized sports betting is one that no one knows for sure. Maybe before the upcoming NFL season is over, we will have the answer, but we will have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the race is on!