Sportsbooks soar again as New Jersey igaming continues to stem retail losses

New Jersey sportsbooks were very close to scaling a new $1bn height during December, while the region’s online casinos and poker rooms continued to stem the losses being felt on a retail basis. 

During the month the Garden State’s igaming offerings generated a record $99.5m in revenue, up 101.6 per cent from $49.3m in 2019 and producing $14.9m in taxes.

Online casinos tallied $970.3m in revenue throughout the entire year, a 101 per cent gain from $482.7m in 2019, and produced $145.7m in taxes. With revenue at retail casinos down $1.2bn year over year, analysts say that the rise in online gaming revenue was “critical”.

“It’s scary to think of where New Jersey’s gaming industry would be without online casino gaming,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “Every dollar of revenue gained and tax dollar generated from online gaming proved desperately needed.”

On the sports betting front, the month saw New Jersey fall a fraction shy of becoming the first state to accept $1bn in sports bets in a single month, but the region still extended a streak of record-setting months while reaching $6bn in wagers for the year. 

New Jersey’s sportsbooks collected $996.3m in December wagers, according to official data, surpassing the record $931m bet just a month earlier and marking the fifth straight month of setting an all-jurisdiction record. This generated a record $66.4m in revenue.

Year-over-year, handle was up 78.6 per cent from the $557.8m bet in December 2019 and revenue was up 125.6 per cent from $29.4m in December 2019. December’s bets produced $8.3m in state taxes.

“A unique set of circumstances, most notably a once-a-century pandemic, sent online sports betting to these previously unfathomable highs,” commented Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com

“The pandemic has had a diametrically opposite effect on New Jersey’s online and retail markets for both sports betting and casino games. But the growth of online betting was crucial in making up for at least some of the losses in revenue at Atlantic City casinos and certainly continue to steady the entire gaming industry.”

For the year as a whole, New Jersey’s retail and online sportsbooks produced $6.02bn in bets, $5.5bn in online wagering, $398.5m in operator revenue, and $65.1m in state and local taxes.

“Even when post-pandemic life returns to normal, online sports betting won’t likely give up its gains from this year,” added Ramsey. “The silver lining for the industry was that this year was an opportunity for online operators to focus heavily on their products and build their customer base, using a combination of technology improvements and aggressive promotions. That has matured the market far more quickly than was projected.”