While PA Struggles To Launch Sports Betting, NJ Is Raking In The Dough

Posted on August 16, 2018 - Last Updated on March 13, 2019

The New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement released its gaming revenue figures for July 2018 on Aug. 15. Those numbers included the returns for the first full month of New Jersey sports betting. If the results are indicative of a new trend, the Garden State has a definite moneymaker on its hands.

Altogether, New Jersey sportsbooks earned over $3.8 million in revenue for the month. Here are the numbers for each property:

Takeaways from sports betting revenue figures

Meadowlands

It’s important to note that only three of these casinos were open for the entire month. The Meadowlands opened its sportsbook on Jul. 14, and Bally’s debuted on Jul. 30.

Despite its late start, the Meadowlands managed to grab the top revenue spot in the entire state. The geographical advantage that Meadowlands enjoys will likely keep the East Rutherford location in the top spot permanently.

The Meadowlands Racetrack is a scant six miles from New York City. For residents of the city and Long Islanders, the Meadowlands is the closest sports betting location by far.

The sportsbook, which is operated by growing gaming superpower FanDuel, is also walking distance from MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets. As a result, the upcoming football season should produce some extraordinary numbers for the new facility.

Ocean Resort

Ocean Resort’s performance was also a bit of a surprise. Its seven-figure return on sports betting was a bright spot in the casino’s first month. The new gaming hall’s returns on overall gaming were the worst in Atlantic City.

However, Ocean Resort is the only Atlantic City casino whose sportsbook is in a permanent facility. Its William Hill-operated facility stands in stark contrast to the other casinos, whose operations are shoehorned into corners of their casinos or are small kiosks.

By contrast, Ocean Resort opened its facility in a former Revel nightclub. Casino management says that expansion planning for the sportsbook is already underway.

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The revenue figures show the folly of Pennsylvania’s hesitation

Licensing fee and tax rate is a problem

At roughly the same time as the release of the revenue figures, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board met to discuss license applications and updates to the status of sports betting in the Keystone State. So far, there are still no known applicants to provide sports betting in PA, despite an open application window for the entire summer.

The issue remains the licensing fee and tax rate proposed by the PGCB. A $10 million fee to apply and a 36 percent tax on revenue is giving the state’s 13 casino interests major pause.

A representative from Churchill Downs, the newly-approved owner of Presque Isle Downs, is hedging about sports betting.

“We’re very interested,” the rep said. “But have some concerns.”

The spokesperson’s comments came on the heels of CDI gladly forking over $8 million in fees to offer online slots and table games.

The PGCB doesn’t realize the importance of timing

After its August meeting, the Board released a new set of temporary regulations for potential applicants. One provision of the regs and statements from Board members pushed back the schedule for any approvals until at least the Oct. 3 meeting:

At least 90 days prior to commencing sports wagering under this part, a sports wagering certificate holder or sports wagering operator licensee shall submit to the Board for approval internal controls for all aspects of sports wagering (i.e. onsite sportsbook operations, interactive sportsbook operations and non-primary location sportsbook operations) prior to implementation and any time a change is made thereafter.

An Oct. 3 approval means that theoretically, Pennsylvania sportsbooks cannot accept wagers until Week 5 of the NFL season at the very earliest. The PGCB Chair does have the ability to waive or shorten that window, however. It’s also important to note that approval doesn’t mean that a casino is ready to open its doors the very same day.

In the meantime, Pennsylvania money is going to be lost by the millions. The losses will occur either due to Pennsylvanians keeping their bets in their pockets or, worse, crossing into other states to bet.

Two weeks ago, DraftKings opened the very first online sportsbook in New Jersey. Because of that, Pennsylvanians wouldn’t even have to go all the way to one of the eight sports betting locations in the Garden State.

They could simply cross the border, park at a gas station, and bet their favorite sports teams. At this point, every dime is money that Pennsylvania could have kept for itself.

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. When he's not teaching high school math and business, Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.

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