January will go down in the US sports betting history books.

Besides it being the first time that six new jurisdictions took legal wagers on NFL playoff games, there is something much bigger to this story.

According to a release from the American Gaming Association (AGA), January was the first time ever that wagers in new legal sports betting markets (New Jersey included) exceeded amounts wagered in Nevada.

And those six states produced a combined betting handle of $503.1 million.

Nevada sportsbooks took in $497.5 million in wagers for January. That means the rest of the field took in 50.2 percent of the close to $1 billion handle ($998.8 million, to be exact).

But the majority of that 50.2 percent came from the Garden State.

New Jersey (and Nevada) are the leaders

The 10 retail sportsbooks and 11 mobile sportsbooks operational at the time in NJ accounted for $385.3 million. That number is a record handle for the first seven-plus months of NJ sports betting.

While on its own, it doesn’t surpass Nevada, it comes close.

But if New Jersey and Nevada are taken out of the equation, the total handle is $116 million combined.

The AGA shared a state-by-state breakdown:

StateSports Betting Handle
Nevada
$497.5 million
New Jersey$385.3 million
Mississippi$35.2 million
Pennsylvania$32 million
Rhode Island$19.1 million
West Virginia$17.8 million
Delaware $11.9 million
TOTAL$998.8 million

Demand for legal sports betting

There is no doubt, based on these numbers that there is a strong demand for legalized sports betting in America. In fact, the New Jersey sports betting field is expanding every month, and 31 additional states have sports betting bills on file.

New York is one of those states on the “coming soon” list, and it could be the biggest of them all.

Pennsylvania is expected to launch mobile sports betting at some point this year.

Legal sports betting outside of Nevada is just getting started.

Sara Slane, the AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs, elaborated more in the press release about the bigger picture.

“The demand for legal sports betting is abundantly clear, with the majority of legal wagers now being placed in markets that didn’t even exist a year ago. What’s more, this strong consumer appetite for legal sports betting is matched by action from state legislatures and sovereign tribal nations.

“Two-thirds of jurisdictions have now taken steps to legalize sports betting, marking an unprecedented amount of growth for this new sector in just 10 months.”

NJ sports betting scene is still growing

The Garden State’s mobile sports betting field currently sits at a baker’s dozen and includes the addition of four new offerings since the start of 2019.

In total, New Jersey’s robust new industry includes 10 retail and 13 online sportsbooks, nearly two dozen total. That size alone helps push NJ into the spotlight.

And it’s not done growing.

Golden Nugget and BetAmerica sportsbooks are the latest newcomers, both launched before the Super Bowl. The platforms are powered by SBTech and fall under the Golden Nugget Atlantic City license. And both feature sites that offer NJ online casino games and sports betting.

January also included the launch of mobile and retail sports betting operations at Hard Rock Atlantic City. Both are powered by Gaming Innovation Group.

Resorts launched its branded mobile sportsbook in late January, too.

March is expected to include the grand opening of permanent retail operations at Hard Rock and Tropicana. William Hill is the partner on the latter project.

Meanwhile, 2019’s early growth will spread into the year. After all, Nevada-based CG Technology announced its intentions to launch a mobile app under the Meadowlands Racetrack license.

And Bet365 and Kindred (Unibet) will be joining the market at some point this year with Hard Rock as a partner.

Mobile sports betting is a big deal

The biggest contributor to New Jersey’s high sports betting handle? Sportsbook apps.

NJ online sports betting customers do not need to visit a racetrack or Atlantic City casino to place a bet; individuals only need to be in the Garden State when wagering. The convenience factor, and the variety of apps makes it easy to place a bet.

The majority of the Garden State handle continues to come in via mobile apps, including industry-leading DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.

Out of the $385.3 million handle for January, $304,973,986 came from mobile sportsbooks.

Since neither New York or Pennsylvania have mobile sports betting, New Jersey is drawing from outside jurisdictions. But that will soon end once the two states get their markets going.

One thing is clear: Nevada’s sports betting competition is expanding.

Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.