N.J. sports betting begins season slide in April, but still scores $748M in wagers

New Jersey’s sports betting slowed in April, the first month of a typical seasonal dip that should last until August, according to PlayNJ, which tracks the state’s online gambling market.

The $748 million in wagers for the month, according to official data released last week, was down 13% from $859.6 million in March, but up 1,270.1% over the $54.6 million in April 2020 — the first full month sportsbooks were affected by pandemic-related shutdowns.

“New Jersey is unique in that it has never been quite as reliant on football as other legal jurisdictions,” Dustin Gouker, an analyst for PlayNJ.com, said in a prepared statement. “NBA has always been particularly popular. Add that the region’s three most popular teams are all enjoying relatively strong seasons, and New Jersey’s sportsbooks have so far been able to smooth the natural seasonal decline that begins in April.”

The state did top a number of milestones during the month, including $15 billion in lifetime “handle,” $1 billion in revenue and $150 million in tax revenue.

“Considering the challenges, particularly in 2020, $15 billion in wagering and $1 billion in revenue are incredible yardsticks that really drive home just how successful the New Jersey market has been,” Eric Ramsey, an analyst for PlayNJ.com, said in a statement. “At least until New York launches its sports betting industry, New Jersey seems untouchable as the nation’s largest market.”

Online betting accounted for 91.1% of the total handle for the month, or $681.2 million. Retail sportsbooks generated $66.8 million in wagering.

“With brick-and-mortar revenue being up slightly over March 2021, this could be an early indication of a balance shift back to in-person gaming,” Jane Bokunewicz, coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University, said in a statement.

Online casinos and poker rooms, meanwhile, saw revenue of $107.7 million in April, up 34.8% year-over-year, although down from March’s record $113.7 million.

“Coming off of the excitement of March Madness and the higher volume of sporting events in March, sports betting handles fell across the country, and even the king of sports betting, New Jersey, was not immune to the drop,” Bryce Derouin, sports betting analyst with Gambling.com Group, concluded in a statement.