New Jersey, Pennsylvania Set Handle Records, Analyst Says Garden State Supplants Nevada in Sports Betting

Posted on: October 17, 2020, 12:02h. 

Last updated on: October 17, 2020, 09:44h.

For the second straight month, sportsbooks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania posted record-breaking handles in September. That led at least one expert to believe we’ve reached the tipping point regarding Nevada’s claim on being the top state for sports betting.

New Jersey sports betting
The FanDuel Sportsbook (in the pre-COVID-19 days) at The New Jersey Meadowlands is a major reason why the state is generating a record sports betting handle for the second consecutive month. (Image: Meadowlands Racing)

New Jersey once again set the all-time high water mark for a month with a handle of $748.6 million. That comes after the state’s sportsbooks and mobile apps reported an August handle of $668 million, which was nearly $55 million better than Nevada’s then record-breaking month of November 2019.

Next door in Pennsylvania, the state posted a record handle of $462.8 million, nearly $100 million better than the all-time handle that its sportsbooks set just last month. Part of the reason Pennsylvania catapulted over its August total was the launch of the Barstool Sports mobile application at Penn National casinos. More on that down below.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s banner months come on the heels of Indiana posting a record month as well for its sportsbooks. A plethora of betting opportunities thanks to COVID-19 forcing the NBA and NHL to host its playoffs three months later than usual helped trigger those large handles. It remains to be seen whether that momentum will continue into October, as the NBA season just wrapped up this past week.

Move Over Nevada, New Jersey Top Sports Betting State

While the disjointed sports schedule may throw off some of the numbers – August is typically a slower month, since only MLB baseball is in full swing in normal years, and MLB, NFL, and college football are normally the only major betting markets in September – there still are some things we can take away. One of which is there’s an undisputed new number one among the sports betting states.

Nevada has yet to release its September totals, but the handle in August was $474 million. That was still a record in the state for the month, again for the reasons mentioned previously. But it was still $196 million off from New Jersey’s August total.

While Nevada’s resort casinos have not fared as well as regional casinos nationwide since reopening, Blake Weishaar, an editor with Fantini Research, said there’s other reasons why we’re seeing things change.

I absolutely believe we are seeing a changing of the guard,” Weishaar told Friday. “New Jersey will likely continue to outperform Nevada, and I’m thinking we could see Pennsylvania overtake Nevada within the next year.”

A key reason for the change is the fact that New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow remote registration for mobile accounts. Weishaar noted that, as a Delaware resident, he drove into Pennsylvania a few weeks ago to download an app. Now he goes up there weekly.

Nevada, meanwhile, still requires individuals who want to be online to set up their accounts first at the casino where the retail sportsbook is located. But that’s not the only reason, Weishaar said.

“Plus, you have much more affluent states near New Jersey and Pennsylvania than Nevada,” he added.

Big Handle, Little Taxes in Pennsylvania

Interestingly, in Pennsylvania, nearly 90 percent of all bets placed in the state happened through mobile apps. Despite that wide disparity, the state’s retail sportsbooks actually generated more tax revenue.

Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks generated $13.2 million in revenue, but more than $12 million in promotional credits knocked the gross revenue down to just $1.1 million. That meant the state got just more than $390,000 in taxes. The brick-and-mortar books don’t have the promotional giveaways, meaning the $5.1 million generated in revenue produced $1.7 million for the state.

DraftKings and Barstool, the online sportsbooks associated with The Meadows Casino and Racetrack, produced a combined handle of $116.5 million. However, that handle generated just $1.1 million in revenue, but $2.3 million in credits.

Barstool also operates out of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course near Harrisburg. While the app took in $29.9 million in bets, it actually lost more than $655,000. Factoring in the $2.2 million in promos meant its gross deficit was $2.8 million.

Still, Barstool has been seen as a big winner as it’s only been available in the state for a couple weeks. Already, it’s posted peak download numbers for its app that have exceeded FanDuel and DraftKings. According to Roundhill Investments, Barstool, in just a short time, already accounts for about a sixth of the Pennsylvania market.