The New Sports Betting Capital of the Country is in New Jersey
12 July 2019
Similar to wagering on the Vikings to win the Super Bowl, it was thought of as unreal when former NJ Governor Chris Christie brought his state’s effort to legalize sports betting to the US Supreme Court.
Albeit not a place where the industry had strong ties, New Jersey soon became one of the nation’s strongest advocates for the issue.
Today, 12 months following the state’s landmark Supreme Court victory legalized the activity in any state which desired its presence, NJ has secured its spot as the de facto capital of American sports betting.
Uniquely positioned to succeed, the industry’s newfound roots in the Garden State are boosted by a special combination of New Yorkers racing across the Hudson River to bet and wagers placed on residents’ mobile phones. This winning combo rapidly placed NJ as a winner in the growing gambling landscape.
In terms of amounts wagered, during May, NJ residents have consistently placed more bets than any other state in the country. Surpassing even Nevada’s iconic Vegas sports books by $1.5 million, for a total of $318.9 million in total bets placed (for contrast, Nevada took in a total of $317.4 million).
Of the fortunate situationformer Gov. Chris Christie has said “It happened a little quicker than we imagined…but I had no doubt that we would, just based on demographics and how we structured the thing, that we would do extraordinary.”
Despite the fact that since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision there are several additional states that have legalized sports betting, NJ has been the most prominent and has taken the most ambitious attitude towards building and supporting the industry’s presence in the state. Recently, there have been new racetracks and casinos in the state’s gambling capital, Atlantic City, who have placed sports betting at the forefront of their business. Likewise, many established gambling outlets in the state are also pursuing the creation of mobile sports betting apps.
The resulting effects of the movement towards embracing sports betting are sizeable, even for skeptical insiders. In the year which has passed since the statewide legalization of the industry, New Jersey has ‘gained’ over $2.9 billionin sports bets-driving in approximately $200 million in gross revenue for the state’s sports books.
According to the facilitator of the popular Meadowlands racetrack, Jeffrey Gural, “It’s not uncommon to have someone bet $100K on a game, and that’s been a bit of a surprise to me.” Mr. Gural has witnessed $5K bets on a 100-to-1 ticket on a weeknight baseball game which earned a certain gambler a half a million dollars. Of the event, he said, “That was disappointing for us.”
For the longest time, proponents of legalization have argued that to allow such activity would serve the best interests of the state’s existing legal gaming industry by facilitating a new profit center which typically has proven to be more consistent throughout the year-something which sits in stark contrast to physical venues which tend to survive mostly on the summer rush.
While large issues may still be facing the state’s age-old racing and casino sectors, the proprietors of New Jersey’s largest horse tracks have proclaimed that they’ve only benefitted from the legalization of sports betting in the Garden State. Mr. Gural has said “I don’t know how much longer I could have kept that place open losing millions of dollars a year just because I love harness racing…at some point, you pull the plug. So, it’s helped everybody.”
Despite this, sports betting isn’t the only recent item which has saved the state’s racing industry. Last February, approximately eight months since the legalization of sports betting, Democrat Mr. Murphy permitted a subsidy of $100 million to support the industry. Furthermore, the logistical provider of the Monmouth Park racetrack, Dennis Drazen proclaimed that the facility would probably not be able to participate in the case of offered subsidies without the inclusion of sports betting in order to demonstrate the track’s operational viability.
Separately, the new source of a revenue stream from sports betting has had the ancillary benefit of adding a number of new positions at the track both to support sports gambling endeavors as well as supplemental jobs connected to food and beverage sales and site security.
Elsewhere in Atlantic City, the effects of legalization are varied. Most gambling facilities in the coastal city have seen their revenue streams decrease in the year since the motion passed; however, this effect has largely been caused by the recent opening of two new casinos-the Ocean Resorts and Hard Rock casino.
Despite this, sports gambling has noticeably helped to raise the total amount of guests visiting Atlantic City.
Well above the pack, the most popular form of sports gambling in the state is via smartphones. Approximately 80 percent of the total wagers placed are done through mobile devices. Gamblers have to, however, be physically located in the state to do so.
Said the head of digital sports book operations at popular sports fantasy company DraftKings Jamie Shea, “Over the past year, New Jersey has in many ways ascended to the center of the sports betting universe thanks largely to the Garden State’s embrace of mobile technology…We have taken in over 20 million bets via mobile and paid out over $600 million in the New Jersey market.”
Regarding DraftKings, the company’s top locations for sports betting via mobile devices are all positioned along the shoreline of the Hudson River, directly adjacent to New York City-a fact which serves to accent the effect that New Yorkers are having on impacting the local market.
An example of this would be how during football season, certain gamblers would travel on the PATH to Hoboken from Manhattan for a time period sufficient enough for them to hook up to a New Jersey-based network signal, place a bet and then take the nearest available train back to NYC.
Exclaimed former Gov. Christie, “I know people who drive to the Vince Lombardi rest station just to make their bets, and then turn around and go back to the city…The rest station is not far from the George Washington Bridge.”
To speculate how long New Jersey will remain on top of the sports betting pile is difficult to ascertain. Despite how the popular industry appears to be years from passing regulatory obstacles towards legalization in nearby New York, in adjacent Pennsylvania, it has been allowed.
Not to fear this recent occurrence, New Jersey can, for the meantime, rely on its nearby substantial fan bases in Philadelphia and New York in order to propel it through the slow period of summer prior to the football season kick-off.
Sports gamblers in New Jersey anyways have a distinct preference for the NBA and MLB more than exists in Nevada, according to PlayNJ, a site which monitors the industry.
This is causing pressure felt by the state’s sports books.
Again, Mr. Gural reflects, “The Yankees are killing us because they win every day, and the Mets are killing us because they lose every day.”
Despite his advocacy of the sports betting industry as a business which would generate revenue for the state, Gov. Christie has himself become an active bettor. Equipped with the DraftKings app, Mr. Christie has successfully accumulated a decently-sized purse.
“I’m up $1,634.95,” Mr. Christie said. “I bet on Tiger Woods for the Masters, that was a big one. I got it at 15-to-1.”
He holds his ability to avoid placing bets on the Mets, his favorite baseball team, as a contributing factor towards his success. “If you’re betting on anybody but the Mets,” he said, “you’re doing pretty well.”
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