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Author: Bill Gelman
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.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released the latest numbers today, and let’s just call it a record-shattering month.
The Garden State’s previous best month came inJanuary with $385 million. And September 2019 was miles above what was bet in September 2018, which posted just $184 million.
Head to head with Nevada
No surprise, the bulk of the September handle ($374.2 million) came via those 17 sportsbook apps. In 2018, there were just eight apps.
NJ sports betting revenue came in at $37.9 million for the month, which reflects a 59.3% increase from the $23.8 million posted a year ago.
But while the new tally may be impressive, it’s likely not going to be enough to top Nevada for the third month in a row. Last fall, the Silver State reported a record-smashing$571 million for September.
For the year, total bets in New Jersey near $3 billion. In 2018, Nevada’s total amount wagered was $5 billion.
No surprise: FanDuel still setting the table in NJ sports betting
Like the NFL’s New England Patriots, FanDuel Sportsbook continues to be the operator everybody else is chasing.
The Meadowlands Racetrack, its land-based partner, reported $16.9 million, which includes PointsBet NJ.
That figure marks a significant jump from the $7.2 million reported a year ago, which came just weeks after FanDuel’s NJ launch. (PointsBet did not arrive until December.)
So in terms of the overall picture, the sports betting giant continues to keep a significant distance from the rest of the pack.
Here is a breakdown of how the other operators fared:
European + Canadian newcomers: where do they fit in?
Another thing to keep in mind is the NJ sports betting market will continue to expand with new mobile offerings.
Hard Rock Atlantic City, for instance, could potentially become a strong contender with the arrival of new skins from European giants Unibet NJand Bet365NJ.
October may be a better time to judge performance though, as Unibet didn’t fully launch until Sept. 10. Bet365 opened its doorson Aug. 30.
Neither brand seems to be spending significant marketing dollars just yet either.
TheScore Bet, operating under the Monmouth Park license, is another one to watch closely. The Toronto-based media company is the first of its kind to crossover to the sports wagering world.
The brand had its official launch on Sept. 3.
The question is how much will that well-established sports audience convert over to the world of legal betting? Getting into the game a year after FanDuel and DraftKings may limit the growth for TheScore sportsbook… at least at first.
The combination of William Hill, SugarHousesportsbook and TheScore could see some significant growth as we get further into football season.
Monmouth reported $3,361,310, with $2,364,466 coming via mobile.
Bottom line: There are no shortage of contenders and competitors in New Jersey.
And when you combine all 17 apps and 10 retail operators together, there is no questioning the strength of New Jersey’s sports betting industry.
Is American Express testing the NJ online gambling waters with Caesars? It’s hard to say, but as a first step, it has merit.
Here in the Garden State, online sports betting and gambling is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Since its inception in 2013, the industry has grown from just a few sites to a multitude of brands, apps, and websites.
And credit cards are an extremely common deposit method with NJ’s 17 sports betting apps. Plus, there are more than 20 online casino and poker offerings.
Whether or not AmEx expands beyond Caesars is an unknown. For now.
Fittingly, the first of two regular-season meetings is this week’s Sunday Night Football game on NBC. Both teams head into the contest with identical 3-3 records.
And so, welcome to the official start of Eagles vs. Cowboys week. Let the hype and buildup begin.
On Monday, DraftKings Sportsbook had the Cowboys as an early 2-point favorite. It is, after all, a Cowboys home game.
Besides all the NJ sports betting chatter and trash-talking, the die hard Birds fans out there, including myself, are looking forward to another thrilling moment.
The Eagles have certainly delivered plenty of them over the years.
Here are my 10 hard to forget Eagles-Cowboys moments (from a Philly perspective, of course).
10. Never go home early
I prefer watching Eagles vs. Cowboys games in the comfort of home or, nowadays, at one of the 10 NJ sportsbooks. However, it’s hard to forget the 1999 game at Veterans Stadium.
This is the one in which Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin wasstretchered off the field with a career-ending spinal cord injury. Yes, the Eagles fans even cheered when it happened (I wasn’t one of them).
Of course, the part I remember most is deciding to leave early in the fourth quarter. The Birds were trailing 10-0, and quite frankly I didn’t think they had any shot of winning.
My team proved me wrong. Then-quarterback Doug Pederson (yes, that Doug Pederson) and crew decided to make a comeback after I made my exit.
Two Norm Johnson field goals and a 28-yard touchdown pass to Charles Johnson with 1:07 remaining sealed the deal.
I listened to it all unfold on the car ride home.
9. Eagles vs. Cowboys and NFC East bragging rights
I have a tough time coming up with fond memories of the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia.
The former University of Oregon head coach arrived with a lot of hype but did not exactly live up to those high expectations.
However, he did lead the Birds to an NFC East crown in his first season.
The 24-22 victory over Dallas on Dec. 29, 2013, was a memorable one (the losers clinched a Wild Card).
But Kelly did not do it alone. LeSean McCoy rushed for 131 yards and caught a three-yard touchdown pass from some guy named Nick Foles (in his first go-around with the Birds).
This was a back-and-forth battle. The Cowboys got within two points with 3:50 remaining in the game. When the home team needed it most, Brandon Boykin came up with a huge interception to clinch the win.
8. Stopping Emmitt Smith on 4th and 1
As much as I do not like the Cowboys, I have no problem admitting that Emmitt Smith is one of the most talented running backs that I’ve ever seen play.
The feisty Eagles fans were equipped with a full arsenal of snowand ice. The Bounty Bowl signs hanging around the stadium made it extremely clear that this one was going to get extremely ugly.
Anyone standing on the Cowboys sideline was an open target. Luckily, I was watching this one at home.
Trash talking is fine. Throwing snowballs and ice at innocent bystanders took things way too far. The CBS announcers sitting in the booth even found themselves ducking as they were calling the game.
Years later, this Birds 20-10 victory over the 1-12 Cowboys remains a heavy footnote to the Bounty Bowl saga.
2. Lito Sheppard’s 102-yard touchdown return
Lito Sheppard is not one of those players I would include on my list of greatest Eagles of all time.
However, when talking about the greatest plays in this rivalry, he accomplished something that I will never forget.
When these two teams played in 2006, everyone thought Terrell Owens (the former Eagle playing for the Cowboys) was going to hog the spotlight. After all, the game was taking place at Lincoln Financial Field.
Owens finished with just three catches for 45 yards.
Sheppard turned out to be the real playmaker in this one. He intercepted a Drew Bledsoe pass on the Eagles 6-yard line and ran 102 yards all the way to the end zone.
Eagles won 38-24.
1. Wilbert Montgomery leads the way
Nothing says classic better than an Eagles vs. Cowboys matchup for the NFC Championship game at the Vet. Talk about adding meaning to a storied rivalry.
Being a young kid at the time, I don’t exactly remember what I was doing on this extremely cold day (below freezing temps and strong wind gusts) in January1981.
The Philadelphia Phillies were fresh off their first-ever World Serieswin, and the City of Brotherly Love was hungry for more.
With the national spotlight now on the Birds, one of the greatest players ever to wear the green and white delivered big time. Running back Wilbert Montgomery dashed 42 yards to pay dirt and an early 7-0 advantage.
Two Tony Franklin field goals and a late 9-yard run by Leroy Harris sealed the 20-7 victory.
And FINALLY, my Eagles were going to the Super Bowl.
Of course, it ended up taking nearly another 40 years before I experienced the Super Bowl celebration in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The bottom line is the New Jersey market is still growing. With 80%+ of bets going online, the addition of more apps now and in the future will only fortify that growth.
That’s not to say that Nevada doesn’t have mobile betting, but its regulations do not allow for remote sign-up of betting apps. This limits the online dominance considerably. And gives New Jersey an edge.
DraftKings and FanDuel set the sports betting table
DraftKings Sportsbook made history back in August 2018 by launching NJ’s first mobile sports betting app. The product operates under the ResortsDigital umbrella (with Fox Bet and Resorts Sportsbook).
And since that summer launch, the Boston-based company has watched the numbers climb past those in Nevada.
When asked if he is surprised about New Jersey topping Nevada in handle for the third time, Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, said he is “not surprised at all.”
“The product we offer the NJ residents is paramount so in my opinion, it’s the best place to wager on sports in the country,” said Avello.
He did note that Nevada has a population of 3 million compared to 9 million in NJ.
And the market-leading FanDuel Sportsbook (under the Meadowlands Racetrack license) continues to play a major role as well.
Kevin Hennessy, a spokesman for FanDuel Group, said sports betting in New Jersey continues to surpass all of the company’s expectations.
“We have a great product that offers customers an unsurpassed sports experience and that is what has made it the No. 1 online sportsbook in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” he said.
For August alone, the Meadowlands reported $11.8 million in sports betting revenue (a portion of it is from PointsBet NJ). The majority of betting revenue, $9.3 million, came via online.
Resorts Digital claimed the distant No. 2 spot with $6.7 million.
NY’s loss continues to be NJ’s gain
The other side of the coin, of course, is that New Jersey operators continue to benefit from the business coming out of the New York City area where there are more than 8 million residents.
Retail sports betting is available in NY, but the casinos that are currently offering it are more than a three-hour drive from the city.
FanDuel operates out of Tioga Downs. The Meadowlands location, on the other hand, is less than 10 miles from the Lincoln Tunnel.
Plus New York state does not have mobile sports betting. At least not yet. So, all customers need to do is cross the George Washington Bridge or one of the tunnels to place those bets.
As a result, New York’s loss is FanDuel’s gain.
Hennessy said there is no doubt the scenario benefits New Jersey.
“We have 20% of our online customers coming from New York. Our retail space at the Meadowlands Racetrack has more than 50% of the retail market, and a good reason for that is being a stones throw away from the New York border.”
New York may be bigger, but New Jersey has its numbers.
Get up to a $500 refund if you lose your first bet
The big difference is the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement permits each license holder to have three online skins.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board currently limits the online skins to one per license holder. That does give them 12 possible apps by the time the market is in full launch.
So clearly, the two neighboring states have what it takes to be the sports betting beast of the East.
When asked if New Jersey is set up for long-term dominance over a bigger state such as PA, Avello declined to make any long-term predictions.
However, he did offer up this thought:
“I do not want to speculate who will have the biggest sports handle down the road, but I will say the Division of Gaming Enforcement in New Jersey has been aggressive and open to new ideas, which has been a difference maker,” Avello said.
Until another state knocks down the champs, the sports betting handle title belongs to New Jersey. With football season in full betting mode, it’s likely Nevada will regain that crown in the months ahead.
In any case, the next round will be decided later this month.
The big difference for this year is the marketing is centered around the casino product and its new Orbit platform.
888 Casino’s new deal with the NY Jets
In a nutshell, the new deal means for the six remaining Jets regular-season home games, including the Week 6 contest against the Dallas Cowboys, this is what fans will see:
888 Casino branding will be on display across the 82,000-plus capacity MetLife Stadium.
The Red Zone feature (aka highlights from around the league) will be sponsored by 888 Casino.
There will be additional promotions spread online across the team’s website and social channels, and broadcast over 98.7 ESPN during radio coverage of the Jets games.
While featuring the 888 Sportsbook brand seems to make much more sense, NFL rulesprohibit teams from promoting sports betting.
As it is, the NJ online gambling operator is based out of Secaucus. The Jets play their home games in nearby East Rutherford (aka the Meadowlands) and practice in Florham Park.
The partnership seemed to be a perfect match.
888 + Jets partnership = benefits
Yes, the Jets did finish the 2018 season with a 4-12 record. And they head into this week’s game against the Philadelphia Eaglesstill seeking their first win of the new season.
But based on the press release, this deal clearly isn’t based around the franchise’s on-the-field performances.
Building brand and customer awareness are what it’s all about.
“The extension of the deal between the New York Jets and 888casino.com for a second year in a row only reaffirms our expansion efforts and reiterates the interest in online gaming within the US sports community,” said Yaniv Sherman, head of group commercial development.
“The continuation of the partnership marks another milestone for 888casino.com in the US, as we continue to pioneer betting operations through this sponsorship agreement, our second consecutive with an NFL team!”
888, which operates under the Caesars Interactive license, is building on the momentum from a very busy summer. The highlight is, of course, the July launch of its new casino platform.
NFL training camps opened around the same time.
NY Jets but not NY Giants
Keep in mind the New York Giants also call MetLife home. But the partnership does not apply to those home games.
In an interview, Sherman said the focus was on “opting for a specific team from a big market.”
It just so happens the Jets are from the New York market but call the Garden State home.
“I think there are very few brands today in American sports that regardless of whether the team wins or not or who plays on the team the franchise brand is bigger than anything else,” said Sherman.
“The Jets are one of a handful of teams associated with the city and that is important to us. I think we share similar values and DNA. We are a very good cultural fit.”
The 888 Casino brand (that shares a wallet with 888 Sport and 888 Poker) will be front and center on Oct. 21. That’s when the Jets host the currently undefeated New England Patriots in a Monday Night Football game.
That would be Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowlchampion Patriots.
As the game sponsor, there will be an additional 888 Casino branding. This will include digital ribbons around MetLife Stadium, along with Jumbotron and audio mentions during the contest.
Yes, the Patriots won the first contest handily, 30-14. And it’s safe to say the 888 team will be rooting for a Jets win the second time around.
However, if 888 Casino customers sign up and deposit as a result of the deal, that will count in the win column, too.
The upside is some of the Eagles greatest moments have come against the Packers. A couple of them are even worth including on the list of 10 best Eagles games of all time (minus the previously mentioned championships, of course).
Keep in mind that there are several other contests that could easily crack the top 10 in Philadelphia Eagles’ history. After reading this list, feel free to agree, disagree or add one you think we missed.
10. 4th and 26
Since Thursday Night Football features Eagles versus Packers, it’s only fitting that we start off with this 2004 playoff game between these two teams.
Philadelphia was trailing 17-14 at home with 1:12remaining and no timeouts. And it came down to 4th and 26. Quarterback Donovan McNabb connected with Freddie Mitchell on a 28-yard pass.
Kicker David Akers added two clutch field goals (including the game-winner in overtime) to give the Eagles a 20-17 win.
9. The Double Doink
The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles almost missed the playoffs last season. And if it wasn’t for a miscue by Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey, it would’ve been one-and-done for Nick Foles and company.
Philadelphia took a 16-15 lead with 56 seconds remaining in the game (thanks to Golden Tate’s 2-yard touchdown reception). However, the Bears drove and got in position for a 43-yard field goal to win the game. Fortunately for Eagles fans, the kick hit the upright and the crossbar for the game-ending “double doink.” People are still talking about it several months later.
8. Donovan McNabb plays with a broken ankle
When you’re a mobile quarterback like Donovan McNabb, playing with a broken ankle would seem impossible. But there is no quitting in Philly. Just ask Rocky Balboa.
In this 2002 regular-season game against the Arizona Cardinals, he went down with an injury early in the first quarter. McNabb got taped up in the locker room and came back out to finish the game. All he did was pass for 255 yards and four touchdowns while essentially playing on one leg. Eagles won the game 38-14 but lost their quarterback for the rest of the regular season.
7. What a Vick-tory
This Nov. 15, 2010, NFC East matchup between the Eagles and WashingtonRedskins came down to a dominating performance by one man — starting quarterback Michael Vick.
Yes, the 59-28 final score on Monday Night Football is hard to forget. But the passer turned in a performance for the ages, throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another two (to go along with 80 rushing yards). It marked the first time in NFL history that a player put up those kinds of numbers in a single game.
By the way, the starting QB for the Redskins was some guy named Donovan McNabb.
6. The Pickle Juice Game
Have you ever tried pickle juice? Well, back in 2000 — Andy Reid’s second year as head coach — it ended up being the formula to victory in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
The temperature was only 109 degrees outside, and even hotter on the playing surface. The Eagles players drank the pickle juice to avoid getting dehydrated in the excessive heat. It may not have tasted great, but the 41-14 victory made drinking it worthwhile.
5. Miracle at the Meadowlands
You never know what’s going to happen when the Eagles and New York Giants play. The first Miracle at the Meadowlands takes us back to Nov. 19, 1978.
Most times, a 17-12 advantage with 31 seconds left in regulation means victory is moments away. But on a 3rd-and-2, instead of taking a knee, the home team ran a play, and the Eagles took full advantage of a costly mistake.
Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik fumbled the ball, Herm Edwards recovered it and ran 26 yards for the game-winner. Eagles won 19-17.
4. Super Bowl, here we come
The day the Eagles punched their ticket to the first Super Bowl in franchise history obviously belongs on the list. Even better, it came against the rival Cowboys at home.
The date was Jan. 11, 1981, and the game time temp was in single digits. Wilbert Montgomery rushed for 194 yards, highlighted by his 42-yard touchdown run. Tony Franklin added three field goals to secure the 20-7 victory. Bring on the Raiders.
3. McNabb throws 5 TDs, beats the Packers
Sticking with the Eagles-Packers theme, this one is hard to ignore. It took place during Week 13 of the 2004 season.
The Birds entered the game with a 10-1 record. Unlike the 2019 team, this squad absolutely dominated in the first half, outscoring Green Bay 35-3. Donovan McNabb passed for 464 yards and five touchdowns, three of which were caught by Brian Westbrook.
2. Finally over the hump
Losing three straight NFC Championship games are the moments that Eagles fans tend to avoid talking about. This playoff game from the 2004 season, however, is nearly impossible to forget.
The Atlanta Falcons came to the City of Brotherly Love, with a trip to Jacksonville on the line. The home team was hungry and ready, and it showed in the 27-10 final score.
1. Eagles vs. Vikings 2018
US Bank Stadium is home to the Minnesota Vikings. It also happened to be the site of Super Bowl LII. But the road to Minnesota came through Philadelphia and Lincoln Financial Field.
On Jan. 21, 2018, the home team made it crystal clear that this was their year. Minnesota scored the first touchdown of the game, and the Birds responded with 38 unansweredpoints. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns. And, we all remember what happened next.