Game on: N.J. sports betting returns in force, setting wager record in August

(File photo)

When it comes to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on New Jersey’s sportsbooks, apparently all bets are … on?

The sports gaming industry in the state, after months of down numbers amid postponed or canceled events, set a record with $668 million in wagers in August as athletes returned to the field in many major sports, according to PlayNJ.

The mark was nearly $100 million more than the state’s previous best total, and pushed New Jersey past the $8 billion market in total betting since it was launched in the state in June 2018.

“A full schedule of baseball, basketball and hockey was enough to unleash an avalanche of pent-up demand,” Dustin Gouker, PlayNJ’s lead analyst, said in a prepared statement. “New Jersey’s sports betting market has proven resilient since the pandemic began, drawing more bettor interest since March than any other U.S. jurisdiction. With major sports back on the board, though, the state’s sportsbooks are showing shocking strength.”

The state’s online and retail sportsbooks collected $667.98 million in August, PlayNJ said, up 112% from July and up 127.5% year-over-year. The previous state record of $562.7 million was set in November, and, that same month, Nevada set a national record of $614.1 million.

PlayNJ noted that gross revenue for August grew 56.7% year-over-year, to $39.5 million, while the “win” generated $4.9 million in state taxes.

Basketball generated $166.2 million in bets for the month, while baseball added $150 million, according to PlayNJ. The “other” sports, including hockey, generated $204.9 million. And no significant football games were played during the month, PlayNJ added.

Nevada, which has yet to report August data, had not topped New Jersey’s monthly handle since December, and the continued COVID situation likely will keep it from doing so in the most recent month.

“New Jersey’s robust and mature online market is a clear advantage over every other jurisdiction, including Nevada, which relies more on in-person betting,” Eric Ramsey, a PlayNJ analyst, said in a statement. “A full schedule of major sports in August, generating huge interest, has only highlighted the fact that New Jersey is better positioned to withstand the challenges of the pandemic.”

Online sportsbooks produced 90.1% of August’s handle, down from 93.9% in July. Retail sportsbooks drew $66 million in the month, up from $19.3 million in July.

In addition, online casinos and poker rooms set a record with $87.8 million in revenue, up 113.6% from August 2019, with the “win” worth $13.2 million in state and local taxes.