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State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – New Jersey Sportsbooks Hit July Home Run

We are in the dog days of summer and trading is slow at U.S. sportsbooks due to the sheer lack of sporting activity. The football season does not begin until September, while NBA and NHL stars are also taking a well-earned break, so sports fans do not have much to wager on. Yet New Jersey still managed to pull in a sports betting handle of $251.3 million in July and that represents a hugely impressive performance. It managed just $40.7 million in July 2018, when the sports betting industry was only just finding its feet in a post-PASPA universe.

Revenue that month stood at $3.8 million and it shot up to $17.9 million in July 2019, a year-on-year increase of 365%. The sports betting market was primarily focused on baseball, and that does not attract anywhere near as much action as football and basketball, so operators should be pleased with the size of the handle.

Battling Nevada for Supremacy

It was actually the slowest trading month of the year for Jersey sportsbooks. It peaked in May, when the Garden State overtook Nevada for the first time to become the number one sports betting market in America. However, it dropped to just $273 million in June, which was well short of the $322 million recorded in Nevada that month. The handle dropped again to $251.3 million in July, but Nevada sportsbooks will need to break their previous record if the Silver State is to hold onto its crown.

In July 2018, the Nevada sports betting industry took $244.6 million in wagers, its best-ever performance during the month of July. It will need to improve upon that if it is to beat the figure posted in New Jersey. That shows just how strong a month’s trading Garden State operators enjoyed. Revenue also rose significantly, from $9.7 million in June to $17.9 million in July. That is an increase of 84%, despite the handle being smaller in July, and it suggests that bettors are not quite so savvy when it comes to betting on baseball.

Bow Down to FanDuel

Online wagering was the dominant force once again in July, as it accounted for $213 million of the handle. That equates to almost 85% of all sports bets placed in New Jersey for the month. FanDuel continues to lead the way and it was responsible for more than half the state’s total revenue during the month. It has a thriving brick and mortar sportsbook at The Meadowlands, just across the border from New York City, but it also has the most popular app in New Jersey and that has allowed it to dominate its rivals.

Between them, FanDuel and DraftKings accounted for almost $13 million of the $17.9 million revenue in July 2019, leaving the other operators to scrabble around for crumbs. It is easy to see why casino owners in Illinois fought so hard to exclude the two former daily fantasy sports giants from the state’s new sports wagering industry. They have been successful in securing a temporary ban from FanDuel and DraftKings from launching under a “bad actor” clause.

Yet their relentless march across the country continues. The FanDuel sportsbook went live in Pennsylvania at the end of July, and it also launched a retail book in New York. Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment purchased FanDuel last year to front its U.S. operations, and the project has gone swimmingly thus far. DraftKings is also heading to Pennsylvania via a partnership with Penn National, while both operators are expected to launch in Iowa soon.

Iowa Joins the Party

The first sportsbooks in the Hawkeye State opened their doors on Thursday this week, ushering in a brave new era for the region’s sports fans. It makes Iowa the 11th state to roll out legal sportsbooks and just the fifth to introduce statewide online sports wagering. Ameristar, Catfish Bend, Isle Bettendorf, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside, Prairie Meadows, Rhythm City and Riverside have all launched retail sportsbooks this week. Four of them have partnered with William Hill, two with BetWorks, one with PointsBet and one with Jambi. Just four have launched online sports betting – Isle Bettendorf, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside and Prairie Meadows – and they are all aligned with William Hill.

While it may be in third place behind FanDuel and DraftKings in New Jersey, William Hill has been making great strides across the country. It already boasted a market-leading position in Nevada, and it has secured exclusive retail agreements in both Delaware and Rhode Island. It is on course to become the leading player in Iowa too. “We are partnering with William Hill to provide our guests with an exciting entertainment experience for football season and beyond,” said David Monroe, general manager at Lakeside, part of Affinity Gaming. “William Hill has long been the gold standard for sports betting and we look forward to partnering with them as soon as we are able to take the first bet.”

Rapid Expansion

Hills recently released H1 results, revealing that it slumped to a loss of £64 million ($77.6 million) after struggling in the wake of FOBT maximum stake changes in British betting shops. It now plans to ramp up its presence in the nascent U.S. sports betting industry in order to make up the shortfall. “We continue to expand rapidly in the US, both in Nevada and in the new states, with over $1 billion wagered with us in the first half,” said chief executive Philip Bowcock. We now live in eight states and will expand into at least two more states in H2.”

Many more states have legalized sports betting and its pending launch in Montana, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina and New Hampshire. State-run sports betting could begin in New Hampshire cities like Dover at the start of 2020 after Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 480. It permits 10 retail sportsbooks and five online sports betting sites, regulated by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, and cities are now balloting residents on whether they want brick and mortar sportsbooks in the local vicinity. “We just want to make sure it’s not a missed opportunity for the city of Dover,” said Mayor Karen Weston, capturing the sentiments of many public figures that are keen to capitalise on the potential the sports betting industry offers.

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