Nevada's Time To Adapt Appears Here
Legal Sports Report

Is This The Month NJ Sports Betting Passes Nevada For The Top Spot?

NJ sports betting

New Jersey sports betting nearly caught Nevada in April, and it appears the Garden State could do so in May.

The state saw $318.9 million in wagers last month. In May 2018, Nevada sports betting set a record for handle in that month with $315.5 million.

That opens the possibility that NJ sports betting could pass Nevada in terms of wagers this month. Nevada numbers will come out at the end of this month, but the footsteps already grew louder on this front.

A closer look at NJ sports betting numbers

Handle increased slightly from April, when New Jersey took $313 million in wagers. Revenue fell more than $5 million to $15.5 million, though, without a clear reason. That equates to a steady but underwhelming win of 4.8%, which falls even farther when futures are extracted.

No major shifts took place within individual sport betting, with basketball and baseball win both falling slightly. Parlay hold checked in above 13% for the second consecutive month. That’s well below historical hold but seemingly in line with a market not enamored with the higher-margin plays.

Neither month approached what NJ sports betting accomplished in its first March Madness. More than $372 million flowed through NJ sportsbooks in 2019 during the biggest multi-day sports betting event on the American calendar.

More screen time = more wagers

NJ sports betting revenue approached $200 million since inception in June 2018 with the modest win in May. Perhaps even more impressively, total handle since launch neared $3 billion with one partial month left to calculate a full year.

As is the norm in the Garden State, NJ sports betting apps accounted for more than four out of every five wagers. Roughly 81% of bets in New Jersey occurred via mobile platforms in May, totaling more than $253 million.

For the calendar year, more than $1.11 billion of the $1.39 billion wagered took place on mobile. That seemingly established baseline above 80% appears to represent a sustainable trend for New Jersey.

Nevada more prone to swings

Mobile growth featuring superior technology allows New Jersey to keep a steadier stream of handle and revenue. It removes barriers to entry like weather and travel that can hamper retail sportsbook traffic flow.

Nevada still relies more on retail, even if only by the anecdotal level of 10-20 percent. That leads the Silver State open to bigger swings, for better and for worse.

A record March Madness with nearly $600 million wagered shows that Nevada still owns the top spot in the country — when everything lines up its way. Economic downturns or travel disruptions can combine with seasonal visitation fluctuations to push legal sports betting revenue the other way as well.

Consistent pressure from New Jersey (and eventually Pennsylvania and New York) likely will force the Nevada industry to adapt. Whether that is taking place in earnest remains to be seen, perhaps as soon as later this month.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV. He can be reached at [email protected]
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