Sports betting fever is sweeping the nation, and New Jersey is leading the way.
Nothing this year has had more of an impact on NJ gambling sites as the legalization of sports betting.
Choosing the top five NJ sports betting moments was difficult because there were so many contenders.
In the end, we were forced to choose just five. Here are our top-five, headline-making sports betting stories for 2018.
1. NJ finally victorious in court
This may be the top moment in sports betting for more than just New Jersey.
On May 14, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court overturned the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
After several years and $8.6 million in legal fees, NJ finally won its hard-fought battle to bring legal sports betting to the Garden State.
At the heart of the decision was whether Congress could stop the state from enacting legislation to legalize sports betting. Justice Samuel Alito, in an opinion for the majority, said it couldn’t.
And the door to legal sports betting opened nationwide.
As a result of the ruling, several states made moves to offer sports betting in 2018, with the most attention (obviously) on New Jersey.
2. Chomping at the bit to accept sports wagers
Just a few days after the Supreme Court cleared the way for NJ sports betting, Monmouth Park announced it would be ready to take sports bets by the end of May.
Even though there was sports betting legislation already on the books in NJ, there were no regulations in place.
After Monmouth Park’s announcement, the legislature made it very clear that any NJ sportsbook that accepts a sports wager before regulations take effect will be penalized.
Regulations eventually passed the legislature, and Monmouth Park put its sportsbook launch plans into place. However, Gov. Phil Murphy took his time signing the legislation and Monmouth Park had to delay the opening — again.
Eventually, Murphy signed into law the regulations that would govern the NJ sports betting industry and Monmouth Park would get its day in the spotlight.
3. First sports wager
One month after the Supreme Court gave New Jersey and other states the green light to accept sports wagers, sports betting became a reality in the Garden State.
It was not the first state to implement it in the post-PASPA era, though, that was Delaware. Even so, the launch of NJ sports betting made most everyone forget that Delaware beat it to the finish line.
It was no surprise that the historic first bet took place at Monmouth Park Sportsbook by William Hill.
But sports bettors didn’t have to wait long for the first bet at an Atlantic City casino. Borgata held its ceremonial first bet just a few hours later.
In less than six months, nine retail sportsbooks began accepting sports wagers. Hard Rock Atlantic City is scheduled to open its sportsbook in early 2019.
That leaves Caesars as the only AC casino without a physical sports betting presence. At the same time, its parent company, Caesars Entertainment, has opened two other sportsbooks on the Boardwalk — one at Bally’s and the other at Harrah’s.
Since Monmouth Park accepted that first bet, NJ sportsbooks generated $73.4 million in sports betting revenue.
Considering NJ sports betting is still in its infancy, it explains why other states are starting to consider legal sports betting as a potential revenue (and tax) source.
4. Online sports betting stealing the show
Recent NJ sports betting revenue reports put the exclamation point on the power of mobile sports betting apps.
The latest in November reported nearly $331 million in sports bets across all sports betting operations. It showed a 29 percent increase from October. What is notable, however, is that 72.1 percent of that figure came from mobile and online sports betting.
Since DraftKings Sportsbook accepted the first mobile sports bet, seven new online sportsbooks launched creating that massive figure, including:
- 888 Sport
- Caesars Sportsbook NJ
- PlayMGM Sports
- William Hill NJ (now Caesars NJ)
More than 53 percent of the $73.4 million in revenue the sports betting industry generated since its launch comes from online sports betting.
What makes that number even more impressive is that brick-and-mortar sportsbooks had a two-month head start. Additionally, there was only one online sportsbook in month three.
Undoubtedly, sports betting revenue will continue to dominate headlines in 2019.
5. Partnerships, sponsorships and agreements
Besides the overturning of PASPA, without which none of these headlines would be possible, partnerships have dominated the storylines.
The biggest stories from the second half of the year come from the plethora of partnerships and sponsorships between the major sports leagues, gaming platforms, software providers, and sportsbooks.
European sports betting platforms paired with casinos in record numbers to gain entry to the US sports betting market. Sports betting is thriving in Europe.
Bringing the experience of an established software provider on board allows a sportsbook to launch much faster than it would be able to otherwise.
The major sports leagues and its teams went on a partnership spree over the last few months. It paired with gaming companies to create a new revenue stream, which marked an about-face for the leagues’ initial opposition to sports betting.
MGM was the first gambling company to ink a deal with a major sports league. After announcing its landmark deal with the NBA, the company would go on to secure partnerships with MLB and the NHL.
As a result of the partnerships, the Prudential Center, home to the NJ Devils, offered space to both William Hill and Caesars for two sports-themed lounges.
The deals between the sports leagues and gaming companies are mostly:
- Focus on a marketing relationship
- Include access to the official league data
Looking ahead to 2019
It is prudent to say that not only will NJ sports betting continue to grow, but expect it to continue to dominate NJ online gambling headlines.
New sportsbook apps will be making their way into the New Jersey market in 2019, including Unibet and bet365.
Plus, with the NFL playoffs set to get underway and the upcoming Super Bowl on tap in February, expect some massive numbers to start the year off right.
All of that aside, let’s not forget the fact that New Jersey will be the state to watch and emulate as the US sports betting industry continues to expand.