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New Jersey Not Immune From April Sports Betting Slump

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New Jersey Not Immune From April Sports Betting Slump
The Monmouth Park Sports Book is viewed on the first day of legal sports betting in the state. Photo by Dominick Reuter / AFP

The month of April has officially proven that even the elite are not immune from an April sports betting slump. With the Super Bowl a distant memory and with March Madness all-but in the books, April’s sports betting handle for the most successful jurisdiction in the country, New Jersey followed the broader national step back for the industry.

While not as sharp of a decline that was seen in a few other US legal sports betting jurisdictions, New Jersey’s slide hit double-digit month-over-month drops. With the lean summer months upon us, there is a sense that it will be the fall before The Garden State sportsbooks can even think about hitting new record highs for sports betting handles.

According to PlayNJ…

New Jersey sportsbooks were able to rake in $748 million in bets during April. While respectable, the numbers represent a 13% decrease from the $859.6 million in March, when the nation was in the midst of what was predicted to be the biggest bet-on tournament in history, March Madness.

April’s handle was a far cry from the $996.3 million during the record December haul but is a 1270% year-over-year spike from April 2020 when COVID-19 had a firm grip on casinos and sports leagues across the globe.

Revenues didn’t drop as drastically and avoided a double-digit decline. New Jersey sportsbooks made $54.8 million in April – a 9.7% drop from the $60.8 million they made in March. Year-over-year revenues spiked an almost unbelievable 1,981.9% from April 2020 when sportsbooks made just $2.6 million.

A total of $8.1 million in taxes were collected for needy state and local coffers.

Propping up the Handle

New Jersey has always owned one of the most productive mobile sports betting platforms in the country and April proved it yet again. 91.1%, or $681.2 million of April’s handle came from mobile apps with retail outlets contributing $66.8 million.

Basketball, despite only a smattering of March Madness games in April still dominated the overall handle and should do again in May with the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets about to embark on what is hoped to be long NBA playoff runs. Hoops have been identified as the reason that New Jersey’s handle hasn’t fallen as much as other states that have reported out on their April sports betting takes.

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

Where It Puts New Jersey

April’s sports betting numbers, while a tad concerning keep New Jersey as the #1 bet-friendly state in the nation again… and it isn’t close. April’s $748 million also reveals just how successful and reliable the New Jersey market has been since its launch.

April’s tally took New Jersey’s lifetime sports betting handle to $15.2 billion, their lifetime sportsbook revenues to $1.04 billion and their total tax contributions to the state since launch to a staggering $151.4 million.

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

The Near Future

While the New Jersey legal sports betting market is expected to continue to be as strong as any in the nation, that inevitable summer slump likely won’t bypass Jersey sportsbooks. A summer slowdown is as expected and predictable as a pickup once the fall starts.

Like most participating legal sports betting states, New Jersey will be waiting on the start of the NFL season for the opportunity to set new handle records for the state.

New Jersey’s sports betting scene will also have one eye on their neighbor New York, which hopes to launch their own mobile betting platform in the near future. It threatens to immediately remove between 18%-25% of the overall Garden State market.

So, it’s steady as she goes in New Jersey with a few potential hiccups likely to present a challenge to the biggest and most successful legal sports betting market in the country.