New Jersey Regulators Approve CarJitsu As Latest Sports Betting Option

Written By Grant Lucas on June 26, 2024
Image of the CarJitsu Championship for a story on New Jersey sports betting regulators approving CarJitsu.

The dog days of summer sports betting in New Jersey have begun. Only one Big Four professional league remains in-season as Major League Baseball heads toward the all-star break.

But that doesn’t mean all the excitement of NJ sports betting has gone away.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement recently approved a new betting market for NJ sportsbooks to offer: CarJitsu, the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighting within a car. New Jersey becomes the first state to approve this sport for legal wagering. And while CarJitsu likely won’t become the hottest betting ticket in town, it does show that wagering on niche or alternative sports continues to be of interest for sports betting operators.

What is CarJitsu and how does it work?

Governed by the Pro League Network (PLN), CarJitsu staged its first event in October 2022. The PLN posted the bout on YouTube and watched as over 70 million views piled up.

Each bout features fighters paired up by belt level and weight who then square off for up to three rounds, with each round lasting three minutes. If a match remains deadlocked after the third round, the first point scored in overtime will determine the winter.

“It’s certainly got that wow factor,” Mike Salvaris, co-founder of PLN, told Gaming Today in May, “but beyond that, it’s actually just incredibly watchable.

“It grabs you — pun intended — even though it initially feels unusual watching two people fight in a car. There’s something sort of visceral about that, and it draws a casual audience.”

Why PLN prioritized NJ sports betting

As reported by ESPN, the PLN founders targeted New Jersey for its first legal betting debut because the state boasted a “preeminent regulatory body” that featured arguably the “most structured” sports betting industry in the country.

“We wanted to stand it up there first, and we felt if we could meet all the expectations and requirements in New Jersey, it gave us a flight path for other parts of the country,” Bill Yucatonis, another PLN co-founder, told ESPN.

Yucatonis added that PLN — which also runs the World Putting League and the SlapFIGHT Championship, both of which are bettable in other jurisdictions — has existing relationships with several noteworthy sports betting operators, including DraftKings Sportsbook NJ, BetMGM Sportsbook NJ, and bet365 Sportsbook NJ.

Niche sports looking to get foothold

Since states began launching sports betting in 2018, niche sports have picked up in popularity.

Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which shut down all major sports and created a thirst for athletic action in any form.

The likes of cornhole, table tennis, and the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest are authorized by New Jersey regulators to bet on in the state. And with a spike in pickleball popularity, who knows when the PPA Tour (the governing body of professional pickleball) will find its way onto NJ sportsbooks? But it could be sooner than you think.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement only breaks down NJ sports betting revenue so far, so seeing exactly how cornhole and table tennis fares is up for speculation. Those niche sports typically fall under the “other” category on the revenue report.

That category, which obviously includes a wide number of betting options other than the aforementioned sports, has generated $1.39 billion in year-to-date handle (about 23% of the overall market) and $116.82 million in revenue (22.5%).

Photo by CarJitsu Championship
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant now focuses his attention on the growing NJ online gambling and sports betting scene.

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