New Jersey

New Jersey Sports Betting Eclipses Nevada

The state of New Jersey isn’t good for much, if we’re being honest. The Newark airport is good for when I’m visiting my in-laws in New York because it’s often cheaper than actually flying into New York. If the weather sucks or your legs hurt, you have someone else fill up your car with gas in New Jersey (in fact, you have to). The properties in Monopoly are named after Atlantic City streets, though that’s probably more of a complement to Parker Brothers for teaching us something. It’s also where The Sopranos was set. That’s about it, I think. But we do have New Jersey to thank for the spreading legalization of sports betting, as it was the Garden State that fought tooth and nail against PASPA, eventually getting the Supreme Court to overturn the unnecessarily conservative law last year. And so far, New Jersey is reaping the rewards of its hard work.

New Jersey is the Boss

It was about a year ago that PASPA was overturned and in May, for the first time, New Jersey surpassed Nevada as the largest sports-betting state in all the land. Every month the gaming commissions of each state publish their revenue reports; Nevada bettors wagered $317.4 million in May, while those in New Jersey just beat that out, handing over $318.9 million in sports bets during the month.

New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak

Former New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak

Make no mistake, this is not an indictment of Nevada. Sports betting is thriving in the Silver State. Nevada sportsbooks accepted more than $5 billion in wagers last year, a first for the state, and are ahead of that pace so far this year.

It is hard to say with 100 percent certainty that the overturn of PASPA helped Nevada, where sports betting has been legal for years, but it feels like a “rising tide lifts all boats” situation, in which the increased accessibility of sports betting has bred increased interest in the pastime. In turn, that has increased the number of people betting on sports.

New Jersey has taken in more than $3 billion in sports bets in its first full year this the industry was launched.

Former State Senator Ray Lezniak was crucial in the push to make sports betting a reality in New Jersey.

“I’m not surprised at all,” he told ESPN about the financial numbers. “I’ve been saying all along that the Northeast and New Jersey is a hotbed of sports activity. We love our sports. We are well on our way, in overall gaming, to becoming the Las Vegas of the East Coast.”

It Had to Happen

When you sit down and think about it, it was probably inevitable that New Jersey would surpass Nevada in sports betting. The population of New Jersey alone is significantly larger than that of Nevada, an estimated nine million residents versus an estimated three million for Nevada. On top of that, while Las Vegas is most definitely a tourist destination, New Jersey is spitting distance from New York City, as well as bordering a number of other populous states like Pennsylvania and Maryland. Of course, sports-betting competition is quickly growing, as Pennsylvanians don’t need to go to New Jersey anymore to place their wagers, but the point still stands: the population base in New Jersey and surrounding areas is much larger than that of Nevada.

PASPA, the law that was struck down last year, was the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. It outlawed sports betting nationwide, though it did give states that qualified the opportunity to be grandfathered in. Just four states opted for this route: Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. Of those, only Nevada had traditional, odds-based sports betting; the others had games that more closely resembled the lottery than regular wagering.

There are now sportsbooks up and running in eight states, with another half dozen states or so having legalized sports betting and just waiting for the industry to actually launch.

In New Jersey, all of the Atlantic City casinos except for Caesars have a sportsbook. In addition to those, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks can be found at The Meadowlands, Freehold Raceway, and Monmouth Park.

The story of New Jersey sports betting, though, is online and mobile. More than 80 percent of the state’s wagers are made online. There are more than a dozen online sportsbooks in the state, all with iOS and Android apps. The plethora of mobile options helps draw gamblers from across the border in New York, especially those who may commute to New Jersey for work, as they do not have to go to a casino to place their bets.


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