New Jersey businesses get $16M in sports bets in 1st 2 weeks

OCEANPORT, N.J. — Two casinos and a racetrack in New Jersey took in $16.4 million in sports bets during the first two weeks such wagers were legal in the state.

Figures released Thursday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the Borgata and Ocean Resort casinos, in Atlantic City, and the Monmouth Park racetrack, in Oceanport, saw gross sports betting revenue of nearly $3.5 million on those bets.

But regulators caution that bets involving future outcomes, such as the winner of baseball’s World Series or football’s Super Bowl, won’t be paid out for months. Just over $1 million was wagered on such bets.

The casinos and the track are the only places legally taking sports bets right now. Of completed events that were the subject of betting, they retained 7.8 percent of the amount wagered, or about $1.2 million.

The report covers only the period from when sports betting began on June 14 through the end of the month.

Monmouth Park took the lion’s share of sports betting revenue, at nearly $2.3 million. The Borgata saw $986,831, and Ocean Resort, which opened on June 28 and had only two days of sports betting last month, saw $192,671. Regulators did not break down the total amounts bet at each outlet.

The CEO of William Hill US, which runs the sports book at Monmouth Park, heralded legal sports betting in New Jersey and said he “can’t wait until football season.”

“While it’s still early, we’re obviously off to a great start,” CEO Joe Asher said. “We always knew there was a big appetite for legal sports betting during the years of litigation, and now it is being proven.”

The Borgata’s president, Marcus Glover, said he’s encouraged by the response to sports betting during a time when baseball and soccer’s World Cup were the main offerings.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand waiting for the NFL,” he said.

Bret McKay, who lives in Toms River, goes to Monmouth Park about once a week to bet $200 on baseball. He estimated he’s down about $400 since sports betting began on June 14 but said he welcomes the ease with which it’s legally available.

“It’s not like it was where you had to find some random guy who knows a guy to place a bet for you,” he said.

But Pete Martorana, of Ocean Township, said he misses the days when his bookie could explain every aspect of a potential bet.

“I’m confused with all these options here,” the 86-year-old said while evaluating a betting sheet outside the track Thursday. “I liked dealing with the bookies better. Just bet the (New York) Yankees every day. It’s easier. And you win most days.”

In its first two weeks of sports betting, New Jersey took in more than twice as much in bets ($16.4 million) as Delaware did in its first 20 days (just over $7 million).

The industry is set to expand soon. The Meadowlands Racetrack, in East Rutherford, just 6 miles (10 kilometers) from New York City, will start taking sports bets this Saturday. And Atlantic City’s Hard Rock casino is awaiting approval for its deal to offer sports betting with British gambling firm Bet365.

The sports betting revenue helped improve the financial performance of Atlantic City’s nine casinos. Including revenue from the brick-and-mortar casinos, online gambling and sports betting, the casinos took in $233.6 million in June 2018, an increase of 7.3 percent from June 2017.

Internet gambling was up 12.1 percent, to $22.6 million.

The Borgata had the best June in its 15-year history, winning $65.8 million from gamblers, more than twice the amount won by its nearest competitors in Atlantic City.

The city’s two newest casinos also did well in their first week of operation. Hard Rock and Ocean Resort started soft-play gambling, a test with real money but for only a small group of guests, three days before their June 28 openings. Hard Rock won $4.1 million in that period, while Ocean Resort won $3 million.

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