The state of New Jersey has long been at the forefront of developments in the gambling sector. Famous for its Atlantic City casinos, the state was the first to embrace the potential of online gaming, permitting the launch of online casinos back in 2013. Notably, it was New Jersey which led the fight to overturn Nevada’s effective sports betting monopoly in 2018, which resulted in the striking down of the PASPA Act, followed by an explosion of sports betting opportunities across the US.
As one of the first states to launchlegal sports betting, back in the summer of 2018, New Jersey has led the way in iGaming, and that trend accelerated during 2021.
It had long been predicted that New Jersey would be the first state to handle $1 billion of sports wagers in a single month, and that finally happened in September 2021, when the official sports betting handle was recorded as $1,011,114,311 for the month, up from $664,700,000 for August.
That surge was largely due to the dramatic increase in sports betting activity associated with the new NFL season, and the ongoing MLB and NBA action,and it continued throughout the fall. The figure for October was $1.3 billion, and the billion dollarbarrier was smashed again in November.
While retail sportsbookscontributed a small portion of that handle, almost all of it came from online wagering. Almost 92% of October’s $1.3 billion handle came from online sportsbooks, as sports fans took advantage of a thriving and competitive online sports betting market.
The state also set a record for revenue from sports betting. The total for November topped the $100 million mark for a single state for the first time in the US, and when December’s figures are tallied, the final revenue figure for the year could be more than $1 billion‒ another US record.
Online Casino Gaming Boost
The iGaming boom in 2021 was not confined to sports betting. Online casino enthusiasts studying the NL online casino list were spoilt for choice as the casino sector benefitted in parallel with the sports betting industry. The share of casino income produced by iGaming was up nearly 36% on the year before, with all of the major casino operators in the state reporting increases.
These figures indicate that the online casino sector continued to rise in partnership with sports betting operators. Twelve of the state’s land-based casinos offer sports betting, much of it online, while many of the sports betting operators in the state also provide online casino gaming, which shows that all sections of the iGaming sector can flourish at the same time.
New Faces in New Jersey
The scramble to gain a license to offer online sports betting in New Jersey continued throughout 2021 with three new sportsbooks launching in the state: Barstool Sportsbook set up their Garden State operations in August, through the license of Freehold Raceway;well known international gaming operator Betway also debuted in August, thanks to a deal with the Golden Nugget casino; and SuperBook entered the New Jersey market through a partnership with Meadowlands Racetrack.
While 2021 brought plenty of good news for the iGaming sector in New Jersey, two trends emerged that could have a negative effect on the industry in 2022 and beyond.
The success of the iGaming sector, while providing an overall boost for casino operators, has not translated into increased business at the Atlantic City casinos. Such was the concern of casino operators throughout 2021 that they successfully lobbied the state legislature to introduce several tax breaks to prop up the industry. These include a significant and controversial change to the PILOT law that determines the amount to be paid in taxes over the next five years.
The continued decline of the Atlantic City casinos would have a knock-on effect on the iGaming sector, as many operators hold licenses through a land-based casino, and because there are such strong links between the retail and online sectors.
A more immediate threat comes from across the state border. After failing to make much progress for most of 2021, the state of New York finally got its act together and approved mobile sports betting towards the end of the year. The application process for licenses may not be complete in time for the Super Bowl, but with up to 25% of online sports betting revenue in New Jersey coming from New York residents, the threat to the New Jersey sector in 2022 is clear.