New Jersey is used to being overlooked because of our Big Apple neighbor across the Hudson River and the City of Brotherly Love on the other side of the Deleware River. The Garden State often gets lost between the two cultural and economic giants.
Even when it comes to legal gambling – which first appeared on the East Coast in Atlantic City – New York and Pennsylvania get much more attention these days. The Empire State is dominating the legal US sports betting market, while PA has achieved NJ’s level of success with online casinos in half the time.
So, it comes as no surprise that most of the gaming industry has turned its attention away from sports betting in New Jersey. But the firestarter of widespread legal sports gambling in the US — that would be NJ — is still a raging inferno that has continued to grow since first being introduced in 2018.
NJ sports betting still in top tier of US markets
New Jersey sportsbooks have taken more than $38.9 billion in legal wagers since June 2018. No jurisdiction in the US has accepted more money in legal sports bets over the last five years. Only Nevada ($33 billion) and New York ($25.15 billion) have surpassed a lifetime handle (total dollars bet) of $25 billion.
The annual handle for NJ sportsbooks has increased each year. In 2019, the first full year of legal sports betting in NJ, the reported handle was just under $4.6 billion. The next year, despite COVID-19’s impact on the industry, the handle jumped 31.3% to $6 billion. Sports betting rebounded in 2021, with handle a shade above $10.93 billion, an 81.7% year-over-year bump.
Last year’s handle of $10.94 billion was a marginal 0.08% increase.
So far in 2023, through the first six months, NJ sportsbooks have handled $5.16 billion and reported more than $400.8 million in revenue. The latter figure is ahead of the 2022 pace, while handle lags just a touch ($5.78 billion) from last year.
New Jersey bettors better than most
Sports bettors in NJ have done better than most over that span.
Sportsbooks reported more than $2.8 billion in NJ sports betting revenue since 2018, meaning bookies kept roughly 7.2% of all the money wagered. Only sportsbooks in Nevada (5.7%) and Colorado (6.8%) have a lower hold percentage among the top 10 legal US sports betting markets.
The state of NJ has also fared well from legal sports betting. The state taxes sports gaming revenue at two different rates: land-based (8.5%) and online (13%). Since June 2018, more than $353.6 million has been added to state coffers from legal sports betting in NJ.
Year-to-date in ‘23, more than $56.5 million has been generated in taxes, with over $55 million coming from internet revenue.