What will be the major NJ sports betting headline in 2020?

New Jersey sportsbooks are coming off a record-breaking November 2019.

Not including December’s numbers, the Garden State took in $4.02 billion in wagers. Add three victories over Nevada in monthly handle, and New Jersey has claimed the crown of sports betting king of the East.

With Super Bowl LIV taking place on Feb. 2Atlantic City casinos and NJ racetracks are gearing up for the biggest sports wagering holiday of the year. However, this time around the New England Patriots will not be there.

The scenario may make up for the not-so-super results from a year ago.

Here are five NJ sports betting stories to watch in 2020.

5. Betting on the Super Bowl gets bigger

Last year, the big story was about Super Bowl betting becoming legal. New Jersey took in $34.9 million in wagers. This time around, no matter which two teams make it to Miami, the options are more plentiful.

There are 17 sports betting apps available versus the 12 options the first time around.

Eight of the nine casinos now have permanent retail spaces that will likely result in larger crowds. This change is significant compared to 2019, when four properties had smaller, temporary setups.

As a matter of fact, several of them have seats available.

Of course, the real story will come days after the game. That is when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) will release the final numbers.

4. $5 billion and counting

Speaking of big numbers: $5 billion is tough to ignore. New Jersey set a monthly handle record of $562.6 million in November. With that figure, New Jersey cleared a major hurdle. That would be $5 billion in bets since the June 2018 launch of sports betting.

So, this leads to a bigger question: Could $5 billion in wagers happen this year? New Jersey sportsbooks are currently less than $1 billion away for 2019. The NJDGE will release December numbers on Jan. 14.

The cross-selling between sports wagering and online casino apps continues to page huge dividends. Online gambling revenue has reached record levels, too.

3. Round 2: Garden State vs. Silver State

New states are likely launching sports betting at some point this year, including:

  • Michigan
  • Colorado
  • Illinois 

While fresh competition is good, the Nevada and New Jersey markets will remain front and center.

In 2019, the big question was if and when the Garden State would pass the Silver State in sports betting. NJ took the crown for the first time in May and followed up with two more victories prior to the start of the NFL betting season.

Having more than 80% of wagers coming in via mobile and online remains a big reason why. Las Vegas still has the edge in terms of being a destination, especially for March Madness betting.

The monthly comparisons between these two heavyweights will continue to be a story to watch.

2. Eldorado-Caesars merger

The Eldorado-Caesars merger is expected to close during the first half of the year. It will be interesting to see how the combined company will address mobile sports betting.

Each license holder is permitted to have three skins, and this is where things get interesting. Tropicana only has one slot filled via its partnership with William Hill NJ.

The three current Caesars Entertainment properties currently have a total of two skins: 888 Sport and Caesars Sportsbook NJ.

Outside operators looking to get a piece of the NJ pie could gain entry via one of these four license holders. 

As far as sports betting revenue goes, Harrah’s and Tropicana are sitting at the bottom of the pack.

At the rate the industry is going, adding new skins would seem like the smart play. Figuring out where things go from here, however, is not as clear as it may seem.

1. Hey, New York, NJ is watching you

It’s no secret that New Jersey is still benefiting from the Empire State‘s lack of mobile sports betting. 

New York City bettors merely have to cross the George Washington Bridge or Lincoln Tunnel, and suddenly their illegal wagers become legal. As a result, the Garden State keeps the resulting taxes and revenue.

New York’s four commercial sportsbooks are trending in a downward spiral. November alone saw a 41.7% drop in revenue.

So, as long as NYC remains on the mobile wagering sidelines, NJ will maintain the East Coast’s top spot. If and when New York gets its sports betting act together, it will quickly become the year’s most prominent sports betting headline.

The year is TBD.

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.