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Just one year after the advent of legal sports betting in the United States, New Jersey became the nation’s most active state.
NJ sports betting produced $318.9 million in handle and $15.5 million in revenue in May, according to information released two weeks ago by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The handle total pushed New Jersey sports betting near $3 billion in handle since launch.
The strong but unremarkable report nonetheless generated speculation that New Jersey would top Nevada for the month.
That confirmation arrived Thursday when the Nevada Gaming Control Board put out its monthly revenue breakdown. Nevada sports betting created $317.3 million in handle and $11.6 million in revenue last month.
Informed speculation points in a couple of clear directions to account for the NJ sports betting win.
What’s become apparent in a year of US legal sports betting is Nevada’s event-based supremacy. When it comes time for the Super Bowl or March Madness, Las Vegas holds appeal others cannot match.
That’s how Nevada generated nearly $600 million in handle for March this year. In a normal month, though, the competition appears more stout.
The second reason is one consistently touted as New Jersey’s biggest advantage: robust growth in NJ sports betting apps.
More than four out of every five bets placed in the Garden State occur online, giving easy access to both New Jersey and New York residents. Bettors can sign up for and fund accounts remotely, a major advantage Nevada regulators refuse to consider under pressure from local casinos.
Mobile app technology in New Jersey sports betting also far outpaces what is available in Nevada. User-friendly apps like FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook create a streamlined experience Nevada apps struggle to match with outdated technology.
The victory for NJ sports betting might be slight but the symbolism of it cannot be missed. The East Coast state that brought the case to topple PASPA needed just one year to edge in front of the Western state that long held a monopoly.
It’s not like Nevada sportsbooks suffered a particularly bad month either. After setting a record for May monthly handle in 2018 with $315.5 million, the Silver State again topped that mark last month.
Yet a low 3.5% overall hold pushed Nevada into second place for the month. Nevada sportsbooks won nearly $7.8 million on 4.25% hold on baseball in May.
Action on the diamond could not offset a late $2.4 million loss on football and weak parlay play of $72,000. The books did win nearly half of those parlays, however.