A record year for New Jersey sports betting
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey took nearly $1 billion worth of sports bets in December, an encouraging finish to a year in which coronavirus closures and restrictions sent overall gambling revenue down nearly 17%.
Over $6 billion worth of bets were placed last year in New Jersey, which won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 that cleared the way for the ongoing expansion of legalized sports betting in America.
Figures released Wednesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show the state’s nine casinos and three horse tracks that accept sports bets took in over $996 million worth of such wagers in December, the latest in a string of monthly records for U.S. sports betting.
Slot and table games revenue for the casinos, including internet betting, was $2.64 billion in 2020. When sports betting revenue is added, New Jersey saw more than $2.88 billion in revenue for the year.
That represented a decline of 16.9% in a year in which the casinos were closed for 3½ months. Even when they were allowed to reopen in July, they had to restrict operations to 25% of capacity - limits that remain in place today.
Only one casino, the Golden Nugget, took in more money in 2020 than it did in 2019. It won more than $415 million, an increase of nearly 10% over the previous year.
Harrah’s had the biggest decline in 2020, down 46.8% to $166.3 million. Resorts was close behind, down 43.8% to $100.2 million. Caesars was down an identical 43.8% to $152.3 million.
Tropicana was down 33.8% to $231.5 million; Borgata, the last of the nine casinos to reopen last year, was down 27.6% to $577.3 million; Hard Rock was down 17% to $290.5 million, and Ocean was down 10.1% to $214.1 million.
New Jersey has led the nation for months in the amount of money bet on sports within its borders. With the NFL playoffs underway in the run-up to the Super Bowl, January 2021 is almost certain to eclipse the $1 billion mark for total amount of money wagered, known in the industry as “handle.”
But that number is separate from, and much larger than, sports betting revenue, or the amount of money sports books keep after paying out winning bets and other expenses.
New Jersey’s casinos and horse tracks kept just under $400 million in sports betting revenue last year, an increase of over 33% from a year earlier.