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New Jersey Kicks Off 2021 With a Sports Betting Bang

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New Jersey Kicks Off 2021 With a Sports Betting Bang
Prudential Center on January 24, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP

The undisputed “King of the bet-friendly US States” New Jersey is out with their first monthly sports betting report of 2021 and despite not hitting a magical $1 billion threshold in January, the state still came in #1 in the nation again… and it wasn’t close.

Despite a bit of a dip in the overall sports betting handle, New Jersey was able to set new National standards in other categories. Sportsbook revenues and the state and local tax spinoffs hit a new high in New Jersey in January – highs that may never be touched by another jurisdiction.

January’s Mixed Bag

Most industry insiders were cautiously optimistic that the state of New Jersey would hit a $1 billion handle in January with the NFL playoffs, the NBA and college basketball, and the NHL in full swing. While that benchmark wasn’t hit, the state isn’t hanging its head with its January figures.

Let’s start with the not-so-great. New Jersey’s January handle came in at $958.72 million which represents a rare month-to-month drop of 3.8% from December’s record $996.3 million. Year-over-year however is a different story. January 2021 was 77.5% higher than January 2020’s handle of $540.11 million.

Revenues, unlike the overall handle for January spiked. New Jersey sportsbooks made a record-$82.64 million, a 24.5% increase from December’s $66.39 million record profits. The earning increase came along with an 8.7% hold-rate. Year-over-year profits showed a 54% increase from January 2020 to January 2021.

Tax revenue collected also set a record. $10.36 million was siphoned off to state and local coffers off of New Jersey sportsbook profits.

Online Apps Continue to Be the Story

New Jersey’s online sports betting apps continue to dominate the monthly conversation. In January, 92.5%, or $886.7 million of the total betting handle came from internet-based betting. It’s a good thing for mobile betting – live casino contributions in all of 2020 were reported to be just 17%.

Online revenues in January alone topped $100 billion making New Jersey the first legal sports betting jurisdiction to report north of $100 million in profits for one month from their mobile platform.

Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com, explained: “New Jersey’s online casinos and sportsbooks have defied conventional wisdom from the beginning, and are hitting milestones that many thought would take years longer to reach. The rapid maturation of the online products in New Jersey has made the state the new standard bearer for the modern US gaming industry.”

The Driver

For the first time in many months, football wasn’t the driver of January success in New Jersey. A pared-back NFL schedule and the conclusion of the college football schedule was the main reason for the drop in football contribution.

In January, basketball was by far the biggest contributor to New Jersey’s handle. Basketball, both pro and college was responsible for 33% or $320.27 million of the New Jersey handle with football contributing 21% or $201.77 million, while parlays accounted for 22% or $220.26 million of the overall handle.

Interestingly, stats show that there is another unforeseen driver of the impressive January handle from New Jersey – New York bettors. Up to 25% of the dollars spent in New Jersey sportsbooks in January came from cross-border gamblers from New York. With the Empire State looking to amend their legal sports betting platform, the New York top-up may not last.

Heading Further Into 2021

January was a great month for the legal sports betting industry in New Jersey. Although there was some disappointment in not breaking a handle record, January’s numbers have to be considered a success considering the COVID-related issues of 2020 are continuing into 2021.

“2020 was an unusual year, obviously, so year-over-year growth is a good bet so long as the sports schedule remains intact,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. “Considering the current momentum of New Jersey’s market, the year could really bring some eye-popping results, especially if the retail market can return to health.”

March Madness is just around the corner and in-person betting contributions from Atlantic City are bound to start increasing with hopeful news on the COVID-19 front. It all adds up to New Jersey maintaining their status as the envy of the US gambling universe and the US legal sports betting world waiting with eager anticipation on the Garden State’s next monthly report.