A mere blip or a sign that legal sports betting may not have the widespread appeal as initial thought is the question many experts are asking after a recent New Jersey state report revealed lower than expected handle and revenue for the month of December.
New Jersey saw a decline for monthly handle fall from $330,748,563 in November to 319,173,548 in bets in December, while revenue declined from $21,243,865 in November to $20,814,222 in December. Both drops follow record handle and revenues set in November.
The drop marks the first time New Jersey has seen a monthly drop in the handle since legal sports betting began on June 14, 2018. When legal sports betting was instituted the state had $16 million monthly handle in June, which subsequently increased to $41 million in July, $74 million in August, $184 million in September, and $261 million in October. The notable bump in the fall is attributed the start of football season, both professionally and collegiately.
What is unknown is why there was decline in December, whether it was brought about by the holiday season and bettors being more mindful of how they spent their discretionary income, or a confluence of other factors. A better understanding will come when the January report is released next month.
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement director David Rebuck was hopeful a deep playoff run by the Philadelphia Eagles would propel a bounce back in revenue. But after defeating the Chicago Bears in the opening round of the NFL playoffs, the defending Super Bowl champions lost 20-14 to the New Orleans Saints in the second round and were eliminated from the postseason.
Nonetheless, Rebuck remains optimistic. He points toward the upcoming Super Bowl (Feb. 3) between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March as reasons why he thinks sportsbooks will experience a boon throughout the spring. Other notable sports events in January includes the College Football Playoff championship game and the Australia Open tennis tournament.
Rebuck told Gambling.com that given the historical numbers from Nevada, New Jersey should be getting closer to that and should as more operators come on.
“We have no reason to believe that we won’t do as well as they do on the Super Bowl and March Madness, and we’ll see,” he said.
One aspect of legal sports betting within New Jersey that continues to show promise is the FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The sportsbook saw an uptick in gross revenues in December, rising from $7,043,394 in November to $9,110,014 last month - $5.5 million generated from online betting.
For the year, the FanDuel sportsbook took in a state-best $31,359,800.
FanDuel Sportsbook, New Jersey’s top sportsbook by handle and revenue, saw significant increases in revenue from its retail and online sportsbooks, company spokesperson Kevin Hennessy said.