Gamblers in New Jersey put down more than $3 billion on sports betting since books first opened in June 2018, but experts say it’ll take more than that for the state to overtake Nevada as the biggest sports betting destination in the country.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement released data Friday that show New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks recorded $3.2 billion worth of bets in its first full year of operations. Nevada’s sportsbooks, by comparison, recorded $5.2 billion in wagers between June 2018 and May 2019, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
“In all likelihood, New Jersey is just getting started,” said Chris Grove, managing director of sports and emerging verticals for research company Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. “We project that the state will eventually generate some half a billion dollars annually from legal sports betting.”
In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that cleared the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting.
New Jersey’s first bets were taken June 14, 2018, and the state edged ahead of Nevada for the first time 11 months later, taking in $318.9 in sports bets in May whereas Nevada took in $317.4 million.
Grove said population size was the biggest factor in New Jersey’s rapid growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Jersey has a population of close to 9 million, nearly three times the size of Nevada’s population.
“A big chunk of Nevada’s sports betting market is generated by locals as opposed to tourists,” Grove said via email. “It’s basically inevitable that you’ll see more sports betting revenue in New Jersey than in Nevada.”
Other states could also pose as a threat, if they legalize sports betting. William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich told the Review-Journal this month that the big question for Nevada would be if California ever legalizes gambling — the state is the nation’s most populous, with 39.7 million people.
“Until that happens, I don’t think Nevada will be hurting whatsoever,” Bogdanovich told the Review-Journal. “That’s the only thing that could slow us down.”
Keeping the title
Grove anticipates New Jersey will ultimately generate more revenue from sports betting than Nevada, but he said that doesn’t mean the state will steal away the title as the nation’s leader in the industry.
He believes New Jersey will have a hard time taking the title from Las Vegas, which he said is known as an affordable and engaging destination.
“I do not see New Jersey displacing Las Vegas as the cultural heart of sports betting,” he said. “There’s simply no other place that can match the depth and density of the sports betting experience in Vegas, let alone the unparalleled menu of entertainment options Vegas offers alongside sports betting.”