N.J. sportsbooks set another record, just short of $1B betting milestone in December

New Jersey’s sportsbooks just missed the $1 billion betting mark in December, but still set another record with $996.3 million in wagers for the month and more than $6 billion for the year, according to gaming analysts at PlayNJ.

While Atlantic City’s casinos continued to struggle with the pandemic, online casinos and poker set a new high mark, as well, the company added.

“A unique set of circumstances, most notably a once-a-century pandemic, sent online sports betting to these previously unfathomable highs,” Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com, said in a prepared statement. “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 continues to steady the entire gaming industry.”

December’s $996.3 million in bets marked the fifth straight month the state set an all-jurisdiction record, topping November’s then-record $931 million in wagers.

For all of 2020, New Jersey’s sportsbooks produced $6.02 billion in bets, including $4.1 billion in the year’s last five months. That represented 31.3% growth from the 2019 figure of $4.6 billion — despite major sports being shut down for four months due to COVID-19. That included $5.5 billion in online wagering, up 44% from 2019.

“New Jersey spent all of 2020 solidifying its place as the undoubtable leader of sports betting in the U.S., and December reinforced that notion,” Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business, Gambling.com Group, said in a statement. “The market has continued to thrive month-over-month, showing steady growth and now reaching almost $1 billion in handle. New Jersey has set a precedent for all other states currently offering or pursuing mobile sports betting.”

December bets generated a record $66.4 million in revenue, PlayNJ noted, up 125.6% year-over-year, and $8.3 million in state taxes. The “handle” was up 78.6% from December 2019’s $557.8 million in bets, as well. For the year, revenue came in at $398.5 million, up 33.1%, while tax figures were $50.1 million in state taxes and $15 million in local taxes.

Online betting represented 93.3% of the December handle, with retail sportsbooks generating $67 million in bets. That was down from December 2019’s figure of $75.9 million. For the year, retail sportsbooks generated $38.6 million in revenue, down from $54.9 million the year earlier.

Meanwhile, online casinos and poker rooms generated a record $99.5 million in revenue, up 101.6% from the year-earlier period and breaking the previous record of $93.5 million. The month produced $14.9 million in state taxes, PlayNJ added.

“Atlantic City casinos’ internet gaming and sports betting revenue more than doubled in December year-over-year, and were responsible for the growth in total gross gaming revenue for the month,” Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University, said in a statement. “Overall, for the year, thanks to internet gaming and sports betting, Atlantic City casinos are down only 20% in total gross gaming revenue.

For the year, online casinos fell just short of the $1 billion revenue mark, at $970.3 million — up 101% over 2019. That generated $145.7 million in state taxes.

“If any silver lining can be found in the pandemic of 2020, it is this: Gaming hospitality and tourism businesses across our region used the crisis as an opportunity to examine their relationship with consumers and consider ways to serve them better,” Bokunewicz said. “Crisis has strained the industry, tested the resilience of many businesses, but it has also been the catalyst for significant changes strengthening the industry and positioning it for successful recovery in 2021.”