Move over NevadaNew Jersey is taking over the top spot for sports betting handle.

The Silver State released its May numbers this morning, and the monthly handle came in at $317,380,281.69.

Most months, that number would be big enough to declare victory. In fact, for Nevada, the handle was its biggest May in history.

New Jersey’s handle, however, came in at $318,940,677.

The difference between the two states is more than $1.5 million.

The timing also coincides with recent optimistic comments from NJ Gov. Phil Murphy at the East Coast Gaming Congress earlier in June:

“Today, we are staring straight into the possibility of something that would have been unthinkable 18 months ago. New Jersey, yes, New Jersey, can very soon and will very soon dethrone Nevada as the sports gaming capital of the United States of America.”

How did NJ sports betting top the charts?

If we take a closer look at May’s NJ sports betting revenue, the Garden State put up winning numbers across the board. And it was mostly thanks to a robust online market.

It’s no secret that online sports betting in NJ is taking over the market. Of the more than $318 million wagered last month, $263.5 million came via mobile and online devices.

That accounts for 82.6% of the overall handle in May. So far in 2019, online handle is 80.6% of the overall total.

Nevada has quite a few sportsbook apps, too. It’s home to 12 online sports wagering sites. New Jersey is home to 14 with more expected to come before football season.

But unlike Nevada, New Jersey players do not have to visit a land-based casino in order to register and deposit funds. This gives NJ an advantage.

Atlantic City vs. the Vegas Strip

But does Atlantic City have what it takes to become a true sports betting destination? Murphy’s comment clearly hints that this could happen.

Las Vegas is well known as the place to be when it comes to major sporting events. This includes the opening week of the NFL, the Super Bowl, and the first weekend of March Madness betting.

Good luck getting a hotel room or reserving a seat in the Vegas sportsbooks.

AC (along with Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack) is still getting a feel for the potential business these major events draw.

The Atlantic City crowd was certainly excited about the March Madness betting debut. Customers also placed their bets across town on Super Bowl Sunday.

If New Jersey is going to turn the corner for these bigger events, there are two factors to consider:

  • During what is considered the off-season in AC, the weather is a major factor. We’re talking cold and snow, which is not ideal for a trip to watch the big game.
  • Las Vegas does not need to market itself as the destination for major sporting events. It already is that. Atlantic City, on the other hand, will need to invest major marketing dollars to change the narrative.

Of course, there are new sportsbooks opening at Bally’s, Borgata, and Harrah’s that are sure to attract the sports gambling customer.

And NJ online sports betting could expand to 20 apps by the time NFL Week 1 arrives.

The bottom line is New Jersey is set up to handle the competition.

But we will have to wait until the NFL season rolls around to truly judge which state wins the overall battle of the sports betting giants.

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.