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State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – New Jersey Knocks Nevada Into Second Place

New Jersey has knocked Nevada off its perch once again and emerged as the leading US sports betting market during the month of July. It surpassed Nevada’s sports wagering handle for the first time in May, but the Silver State battled back and regained its crown. A couple of weeks ago, New Jersey reported revenue of $251 million for July and the industry eagerly awaited Nevada’s results for the same period. They have just come in and it turns out that Nevada could only manage $235 million, leaving the Garden State as top dog once again. 

July is an extremely slow month for sports betting Stateside, as the NFL, NBA and NHL are all in the off-season. That makes New Jersey’s performance pretty impressive. August is also a pretty quiet month, but it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top when the football season begins in September. Nevada’s handle soared north of $500 million in each of the final four months of 2018, when the NFL season was in full swing. New Jersey operators will be rubbing their hands with glee if they can exceed that performance in 2019.

Nevada Smashes Highest Handle

Last year, the Garden State’s sports betting industry was only just getting started in the wake of PASPA’s demise. Its highest-ever monthly handle is $385 million, recorded in January 2018, but the industry is now a lot more competitive and mature, so it should be able to exceed $500 million this year. The highest monthly handle on record came in Nevada in March 2019, when it almost hit $600 million. New Jersey will now bid to surpass that tally in the next eight months.

Nevada sportsbooks will not be unduly bothered, as the dog days of July will never define their commercial performance for the year. Yet it did represent the state’s worst month since July 2017, so they might start thinking of new ways to attract sports bettors during the summer. They won $10.5 million during the month, $8.6 million of which came from baseball. MLB action also accounted for $175 million. A further $43 million was wagered on the “other” category, which clumps soccer, tennis, golf and so on together.

A number of states have legalized sports betting this year, and this race is on to open sportsbooks in time for the football season. This week, Iowa and Oregon became the 11th and 12th states to offer regulated sports wagering, following Nevada, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Arkansas and New York. In Oregon the Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City opened a sports wagering lounge, heralding a brave new dawn for the state.

Wagering is limited to the confines of the casino, but the Oregon Lottery Scoreboard plans to roll out online and app-based sports betting in the coming weeks. Yet it has confirmed it will miss the start of the new NFL season, so bettors will have to visit land-based sportsbooks if they want to wager on the action in a safe, regulated environment.

Iowas’ Doors Fly Open

Sportsbooks opened in Iowa over the past week and Grand Falls Casino also launched elitesoirtsbook.com to target sports fans across the state. It allows bettors to wager on professional and collegiate sports via their phones and computers, from anywhere in Iowa. “I think people will really like the ease of that site,” said Sharon Haselhoff, general manager for Grand Falls. “People do have to be in Iowa to make their bets.”

British operator Betfred powers both the retail sportsbook at Grand Falls and the Elite site. The Warrington-based firm is making its first foray into the flourishing US sports betting market, following in the footsteps of British rivals William Hill and Flutter Entertainment, formerly known as Paddy Power Betfair. “I’m delighted to partner with Elite Casino Resorts in Iowa and we look forward to working with our new partners and sharing our joint expertise in what is a very exciting opportunity and market,” said founder Fred Done.

William Hill US and Flutter’s FanDuel brand have emerged as the two biggest players in the nascent sports betting market in America. FanDuel dominates New Jersey market and it is now expanding across the country, while William Hill has a market leading position in Nevada, it operates in almost every state to legalize sports betting and it is the sole operator in Delaware and Rhode Island.

It recently opened four sportsbooks in Iowa at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Lakeside Hotel & Casino, Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf, and Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo. Iowa marks the ninth state of operation for William Hill since establishing itself in Las Vegas in 2012. Its online sportsbook has now gone live for Iowans too. “We know Iowa sports fans are looking for both an in-person sports betting experience as well as the convenience of betting on their mobile devices. The William Hill Iowa app gives our customers the ability to access our full sports betting menu from anywhere in the state,” said Joe Asher, chief executive of William Hill US. “Our team has worked tirelessly over the last few months to get the platform up and running and we’re proud to be the first sports betting company to do so.”

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