New Jersey Sports Betting Celebrates 3 Years, Rise To National Leader

Written By David Danzis on June 14, 2021 - Last Updated on April 25, 2023
NJ sports betting

Today marks three years since New Jersey sports betting was launched and the start of the Garden State’s rise to the top of the national market.

Since June 14, 2018 — when Gov. Phil Murphy placed the very first bet at Monmouth Park Racetrack — through April 2021, NJ sports gamblers have wagered more than $15.15 billion. Over that same stretch, Nevada sportsbooks have taken $14.97 billion in bets.

“In the last three years, sports betting has been an unprecedented success in our state,” Murphy said in a statement to PlayNJ. “New Jersey has become the nation’s leading state in sports wagers, overtaking states such as Nevada where sports betting has been legal for over 70 years.”

NJ sports betting ‘godfather’ reflects

New Jersey also gets to claim some credit for other states’ success. After all, it was NJ who challenged the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

NJ’s hard-fought victory, which cleared the way for states outside of Nevada to accept single-game wagers on sporting events, is largely due to two men: former state Sen. Ray Lesniak and former Gov. Chris Christie.

Lesniak fought for years in Trenton to bring sports betting into Atlantic City casinos. The Democratic senator found an ally in a Republican governor who shared his zeal.

“The Northeast is a hotbed of sports lovers with many TV and radio sports shows,” Lesnaik told PlayNJ. “I knew New Jersey would quickly, as it did, surpass Nevada in sports betting handle.”

However, we can’t forget about NJ sports betting revenue. The grand total currently sits at over $1.03 billion and counting.

May results will be released Wednesday afternoon.

Legal online sports betting is weapon against offshore (illegal) sites

Lesniak is also proud of online sports betting’s impact. Since 2018, more than 90% of the total amount wagered on sports in NJ has been bets placed online or on a mobile app.

“I sponsored online betting because it was the future of gaming and our casinos would reap the revenue that was going to offshore internet gaming sites,” he said.

As of today, there are 19 online sportsbooks in NJ. And several others are targeting a 2021 launch.

NJ Sports Betting Brought Jobs, Economic Growth In AC, and Tax Revenue

NJ’s sports betting market features 12 retail sportsbooks. There are three sportsbooks at state-licensed racetracks. And, as of 2021, all nine Atlantic City casinos now offer on-site sports gambling.

“As we mark the three-year anniversary of the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey, it is important to recognize the significant impact passing sports wagering has had on creating jobs, generating economic growth and state and local tax revenue, and providing a boost to the Atlantic City casino industry,” said Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean Casino Resort and president of the Casino Association of New Jersey. “Atlantic City casinos are focused on creating a world-class experience for our guests, and that is why our properties have invested millions of dollars into building sportsbooks.”

Even HOF’ers Don’t Hit ‘Em All

In Atlantic City, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was the first gambling parlor to offer legal sports betting. AC’s market leader celebrated the occasion with NBA Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving placing the first bet.

Tom Gable, director of race & sports betting at Borgata, noted the “tremendous growth,” in the industry since Erving placed that (losing) $5 bet on the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl back in 2018.

Gable said sports betting helps attract a younger customer. Sports gamblers also spend money on food and drinks, helping boost the casino’s bottom line.

“At Borgata, we have seen an increase in first-time customer visitation as a result of sports betting,” Gable said in a statement to PlayNJ.

He added: “Having brick-and-mortar sportsbooks benefits properties by attracting customers to come for special events such as March Madness or the NFL playoffs … The property experiences a surge in energy during big sporting events, which creates an excitement that spills out of the sportsbook and into surrounding areas of the casino.”

Responsible Gambling A Priority

NJ gaming regulators moved quickly following the repeal of PASPA to implement legal, regulated sports betting.

“My administration is proud to have worked with legislative leadership and the private sector to establish New Jersey as an international destination for sports betting and to have set up a thriving industry for consumers in our state,” Murphy said.

Today, NJ’s sports betting regulatory framework is, arguably, the gold standard in the U.S.

“Sports wagering has clearly been a success for all of the casinos in Atlantic City both in their lounges at the properties and online,” said NJ Casino Control Commission Chairman James Plousis. “It has provided a great amenity for the industry since its inception in June of 2018. Importantly, the casinos and sportsbook operators have continuously promoted responsible sports betting practices in their publicity to customers.”

The bottom line is NJ sports betting’s third anniversary is a pretty big occasion worth celebrating.


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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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