ew Jersey sportsbooks took in more than $950 million in wagers and a record $82.6 million in revenue in January while the state's online casinos crossed $100 million in revenue, according to official figures released Wednesday.
As a result, the state has become the first legal gaming jurisdiction in U.S. history to cross that threshold in a single month.
The Garden State's opening salvo to 2021 sets the stage for a year in which the state could reach $10 billion in sports wagers and more than $1 billion in online casino revenue, according to analysts from PlayNJ.
"New Jersey's online casinos and sportsbooks have defied conventional wisdom from the beginning, and are hitting milestones that many thought would take years longer to reach," said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com. "The rapid maturation of the online products in New Jersey has made the state the new standard-bearer for the modern U.S. gaming industry."
New Jersey's sportsbooks fell short of breaking the all-jurisdiction handle record for the sixth consecutive month by collecting $958.7 million in wagers in January, according to official data released Wednesday. That is up 77.5% from $540.1 million in January 2020.
Operator revenue rose to $82.6 million in January, up 29% from $53.6 million in January 2020 and topping December's record-breaking $66.4 million. And with $10.4 million in state taxes in January, sportsbooks have now generated $107.3 million for the state since launching in June 2018.
For 2021, the state could reach nearly $10 billion in sports bets, more than $600 million in revenue, and $75 million in state and local taxes, according to PlayNJ projections.
"2020 was an unusual year, obviously, so year-over-year growth is a good bet so long as the sports schedule remains intact," said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayNJ.com. "Considering the current momentum of New Jersey's market, the year could really bring some eye-popping results, especially if the retail market can return to health."
Online betting generated 92.5% of the state's January handle. FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet was again the market leader with $41.8 million in gross revenue, up from $29 million in December.
Retail sportsbooks began to rebound with $72.1 million in bets, up from $67 million in December.
Basketball drew $320.3 million, topping sports categorized as "other," which includes NHL betting, which hit $214.4 million. Football was third with $201.8 million.
"With the NHL back in action and the NBA with a full schedule, January's sports schedule was more or less normal for the first time since February 2020," Gouker said. "That gives us a reliable barometer for where New Jersey is as a sports betting market."
Online casinos and poker
New Jersey's online casinos hit $100 million in combined casino games and poker revenue for the first time. In all, online gaming and poker generated $103.8 million in January, up 88.4% from $55.1 million in January 2020 and topping the previous record of $99.5 million set in December. January's win yielded $15.5 million in state taxes.
"Online casino games continue to show no signs of letting up," Ramsey said. "Obviously with pandemic-related restrictions in place on Atlantic City casinos, online casinos were in position to pick up some slack. But the online gains made over the last year should withstand the reopening of retail casinos, continuing to buoy the entire gaming industry."
Atlantic City's numbers
The resort city's nine casinos saw 9.3% more revenue in January than they did a year earlier, but that was largely because of money won online or from sports betting.
Without that extra revenue, the casinos’ performance with in-person gamblers fell 16.7% from January 2020 totals, the Associated Press reports.
Including internet and sports money, the casinos won $295.7 million in January. And when the three horse racing tracks that offer sports betting are included, the figure rises to $346.4 million.
Hard Rock had a good January, up nearly 40% in all forms of gambling to $33.8 million. Its in-person casino revenue was up almost 24%.
"Hard Rock Atlantic City is very proud of our team and their performance producing a remarkable 24% increase in casino revenue in comparison to last year while the city is down collectively 17%," said Hard Rock President Joe Lupo. "COVID-19 and operating restrictions continue to cause difficulty for everyone. However, being the only property in Atlantic City to see growth four months in a row speaks to our market-leading (safety) protocols and team effort."
Jim Plousis, chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said one big reason in-person casino revenue was down from a year earlier is that it is being compared with January 2020, when coronavirus restrictions had not yet been imposed.
"While public health remains a concern, Atlantic City has worked hard to provide a safe environment," he said. "The casinos are well-positioned to welcome back more visitors as the situation hopefully continues to improve and the spring season approaches."
The Ocean casino was up 31.7% to $26 million.
"January 2021 was the first full month of operation for The Cove, attracting new customers to Ocean interested in an exclusive high limit slot experience," said Terry Glebocki, Ocean’s CEO. "With the recent curfew lifting and Ocean’s ongoing reinvestment, we’re optimistic we’ll continue to see gaming growth as 2021 progresses."
And the Borgata was up 10.5% to $75.4 million.
A change in reporting methods by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement knocked the Golden Nugget out of one of the top revenue sports in Atlantic City, a spot it had long occupied due to strong internet gambling winnings.
But the company spun off its online gambling operations in November, and starting this month, Golden Nugget’s online division has its results listed separately. That division was up 45% from a year ago, to $31.3 million. But the in-person Golden Nugget casino and sports betting winnings were down 33.2% to $10.1 million.
Among other internet-only entities, Caesars Interactive-NJ was up 74.3% to $7.3 million, and Resorts Digital was up 38.7% to $38.5 million.
Casino declines were led by Harrah’s, down nearly 37% to $14.9 million. Bally’s was down 23.3% to $8.7 million; Resorts was down 15.3% to $10.5 million; Tropicana was down 8.7% to $22.7 million, and Caesars was down 5.5% to $16 million.