First Month Of Mobile Sports Betting Signals Bright Future For New Jersey

Optimism abounded for New Jersey sports betting operators and state lawmakers and regulators.

After spending years fighting for state-sanctioned regulated wagering, the Garden State finally had the chance to reap the rewards.

Just three months into the life of NJ sports betting, the industry is booming. And there is no reason to think it won’t continue trending upward — especially after a jaw-dropping August.

August NJ sports betting revenue sets the tone

Released by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement earlier this week, sports betting revenue last month exceeded $9 million. Retail sportsbooks alone nearly doubled the July output, jumping from $3,845,880 to $6,059,662.

The tale of the tape, however, was online. The first NJ mobile sportsbooks launched in August: DraftKings SportsbookplayMGM Sports, and SugarHouse Sportsbook.

Led primarily by DraftKings Sportsbook, which rolled out at the beginning of the month (the other two joined the fold near the tail end of August), mobile sports betting generated a revenue total that nearly matched that of the five brick-and-mortar sportsbooks operating a month earlier: $3,123,281.

With help from that performance, revenue by Atlantic City casinos fell just shy of $304 million, reflecting a more than 24 percent spike year over year.

“With the new casinos that opened in June and the addition of sports wagering options, including online alternatives, the gaming industry has experienced growth rates in July and August that have not been achieved in years,” David Rebuck, director of the DGE, told the Associated Press. “It is an exciting time for Atlantic City and we look forward to continued revenue growth going forward.”

NJ sports betting has potential for more

Following July’s revenue report, David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV, called the month “a small start” but that New Jersey “had the potential to do a lot more.”

Part of his reasoning surrounded the coming football season, which, for college, kicked off Sept. 1. The NFL got underway a week later. Consider that, during a dead time of the sports calendar, NJ sportsbooks took in more than $40 million in handle during July. (Last month, accepted wagers reached nearly $100 million.)

Essentially, August’s revenue numbers should only trend upward as the country’s most popular sport kicks into gear.

“There will be a much bigger level of sports betting once football season starts, for sure,” Schwartz said in August. “Last year, for example, from July to September, sports betting revenue in Nevada increased by about 8,000 percent. So it should increase substantially (in New Jersey).”

A recent analysis from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming indicated that the $3.1 million in revenue from mobile products proved “meaningful,” especially considering the limited availability of products and “the expected hiccups and half-measures that accompany a rushed launch.”

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Online sports betting on the march

As for the future, the mobile crowd swelled from three products to SEVEN within the first two weeks of September:

Several others are expected to join the group, including Resorts Atlantic City, which last month hinted at introducing its own mobile platform. The oldest casino on the Boardwalk, which boasts a partnership with DraftKings Sportsbook, also teamed up with BetStars in early August. Another Resorts-related mobile sportsbook could launch in New Jersey.

Boiled down: New Jersey sets itself up for a September boon.

“As today’s numbers show, Kambi has taken a leading position in New Jersey with revenue generated by our partners amounting to approximately a third of the total across online and on-property,” Max Meltzer, chief commercial officer at Kambi Group, which powers DraftKings Sportsbook, SugarHouse Sportsbook and 888 Sport, said in a statement.

“These revenues represent a missed opportunity for those still waiting on other third-parties to finalize their online launch, and underlines the need for operators to partner with a supplier that can offer the quality and speed to gain market leadership.”

NJ ready to ride mobile to another level

Retail sportsbooks have continued to increase handle and revenue. Of the five facilities that operated in July, only Ocean Resort Casino experienced a dropoff in revenue. There are now eight retail sportsbooks in the state.

The game-changer, though, relates to NJ mobile sports betting. When Schwartz spoke last month, only DraftKings Sportsbook operated online. Certainly, he expected competitors to enter the field, and with that competition comes increased handle and revenue.

“I think it’ll definitely have a big impact,” Schwartz said. “In Nevada, mobile’s about 50 percent of the handle. As they (New Jersey operators) roll that out and people get more used to it, that’ll make the numbers go up a lot.”

That competition apparently does not worry Kambi. If anything, it inspires the group to push harder to create unmatched products. And surely the rest of the mobile market — those already launched and those soon to come — shares that sentiment.

“Although September brings more competition,” Meltzer said, “we now power three of the seven active sportsbooks in the Garden State and are ready to follow a similar strategy in other states as they open up.”

About the Author

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.