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New Jersey’s Sports Books’ Handle Goes Up on March Madness Betting

The brief fiery sports betting action known as March Madness has brought quite a bit of profit for sports books in New Jersey. With almost a year of legalized sports betting in the state, March Madness was an opportunity for business and sports fan alike to gauge the interest in the industry.

Results did not disappoint. New Jersey’s betting agencies can boast the impressive $372 million placed in wagers on one of the most watched collegiate sports events in the United States.

The total handle in the first three months of 2019 has reached over $760 million, all courtesy of the latest round of betting that occurred in the Garden State. Taking a historical look at betting in NJ, the total handle since the activity kicked off in June 2018, has reached $2.3 billion.

It’s been a good March for the industry, the state, and quite a few happy bettors who have managed to amass a small fortune during the Madness contests. What has the true upshot of legalizing March Madness betting been?

Breakdown of the March Madness Betting Activity in NJ

Sports betting enthusiasts have all the reason to feel glad, as almost $300 million was dished back in the form of winning wagers during the contest. Another $63 million went directly to the sports books in the form of profit, and $7.7 million was paid to the state in the form of tax money.

In terms of betting activity, March Madness dwarfed presumably more popular events, such as the National Football League’s Super Bowl, which all in all is not too surprising as the collegiate contest mobilizes hundreds of thousands of people who feel they have a personal stake in their college, friends or family winning the contest.

Then come the people who enjoy the contest for its display of skilled play, and indeed many of the players who represent their colleges are soon drafted by the NBA. DraftKing’s Head of Digital, Jamie Shea, confirmed the news that the NCAA’s event had outstripped the Super Bowl in terms of popularity.

Shea noted that the March Madness served as a gauge as to how popular collegiate sports can be. It was a “glimpse into the staggering business potential of college basketball,” he noted.

Looking into the business of individual sportsbooks, the top US operators had little to complain about. DraftKings’ result was solid, but the absolute winner in March was FanDuel, which has successfully amassed $17.6 million, bringing the total profit to $32 million in 2019.

While some sports observers have cautioned that betting on some college events, such as the MLB try-outs and even March Madness can be susceptible to manipulation, sportsbooks have been able to provide bettors with trusted betting odds, allowing them to make intelligent and informed choices.

Online Betting Remains Dominant

Brick-and-mortar properties started strong in 2018, but it is the online segment that has been dominating the headlines since. Out of the $1.1 billion in total sports handle in 2019 so far, $862,000 was made online giving the betting industry some perspective of where true customer interest lies.

If other states have been reluctant to introduce a mobile sports betting provision as part of legislation that would make the industry legal, the latest results from New Jersey must be a clear indication that sports fans do prefer to have freedom in placing a wager and not be bound to a land-based venue.

Sports betting has been the most readily embraced segment in the United States after the Professional, and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was defeated in the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in May, 2018.

It’s in this context that the casino industry in the state saw a jump in March 2019, completely outpacing results from one year before that.

Casinos in NJ Jump 34.5% in March 2019

Amid the March Madness flurry of excitement observers also noted another significant change in the overall betting & gaming climate of NJ. Last month, the gaming revenue jumped 34.5% year-over-year, reaching $294 million.

Atlantic City casinos had a lot to be happy about, with slots posting 18.5% increase or $162.6 million. Table games hit nearly 9% growth compared to March last year, for a total of $60.5 million.

With the gaming activities in the state picking up steam quickly, March has been not only one of the best months in 2019, but also the second-best month since casinos started operating in the state. Properties such as Golden Nugget and Resorts Digital continued to post impressive growth figures, with the latter more than doubling its gambling revenue in the month.

DraftKings also did well, managing to notch up $7.2 million this month, compared to $3.7 million, though, through sports betting and not gaming.

Players also won more on online gambling this year with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reporting overall player winnings of 50.3% year-over-year. In other words, gamers managed to amass $104.5 million in their own pockets from gaming compared to a year before.

The gaming and betting bonanza in March has been most exciting. It would be interesting to see if the heightened interest in sporting contests has influenced the results of casinos as well, but we might have to wait for more statistically relevant data to jump to that conclusion.

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