NJ Wins The Sports Betting Crown, But Is Nevada Still King?

Written By Martin Derbyshire on July 2, 2019 - Last Updated on March 7, 2022
US sports betting crown

Congratulations to New Jersey for finally stealing the Silver State’s sports betting crown — for one off-season month at least.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board released monthly revenue figures Thursday showing Nevada sportsbooks posted $317.3 million in handle and $11.6 million in revenue in May 2019.

It turned out to be a record May for Nevada. However, it was less than the $318.9 million in handle and $15.5 million in revenue NJ sports betting operators posted last month.

That means NJ sportsbooks took in more bets than Nevada operators in a month for the first time ever.

NJ sportsbooks celebrating

It was rather fitting that NJ won its first month just ahead of celebrating the one-year anniversary of the launch of legal sports betting in the state. The incredible growth of sports betting in the Garden State has had it knocking on the door for most of this first year.

But Nevada will still hold the annual sports betting crown for awhile.

Nevada posted over $5 billion in handle and a record $301,048,000 in revenue last year. We’re still waiting to confirm June’s first-half numbers in NJ. However, it does appear NJ sportsbooks will post around $3 billion in handle and approximately $200 million in revenue in year one.

Nevada still big-event king

Outside of a couple of billion dollars in handle and a hundred million in revenue, the big difference between the two surrounds the biggest betting events on the calendar.

So, it is rather telling that the first time NJ numbers were bigger than Nevada’s came in a month where there really wasn’t one.

The NBA and NHL playoffs go off in May. MLB was in the thick of its first half and the PGA Tour hosted its second major. However, none of these make the list the biggest betting events of the year.

What we’re talking about is events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA’s March Madness.

In February 2019, Nevada sportsbooks saw Super Bowl handle numbers drop for the first time in a decade. However, they still took in nearly $146 million in Super Bowl bets this year. That’s close to four times the $35 million in handle NJ sportsbooks posted.

Nevada operators also posted revenue of approximately $10.8 million on the big game, while NJ sportsbooks lost $4.5 million.

Additionally, Nevada sportsbooks posted a record $522 million in March handle while the NCAA Tournament was in full swing. That included a record $437 million bet on basketball, which Nevada sportsbooks turned into more than $38 million in revenue.

In the meantime, NJ sportsbooks posted just over $100 million in March Madness handle and around $10 million in revenue. (There’s no breakdown between college and NBA betting in Nevada.)

Las Vegas: A sports betting destination

Clearly, Nevada’s edge lies in drawing big numbers to Las Vegas sportsbooks during major sporting events. It’s really no wonder. Las Vegas has been marketing itself as a destination for events like the Super Bowl for decades now.

Until Atlantic City finds a way to do the same, NJ sportsbooks may win the odd monthly battle, but may have a harder time winning the war. New Jersey’s advantage is the ease of signing up for and funding mobile apps, which is considerable more difficult in Nevada. (We’re also seeing that start to come to fruition in Pennsylvania sports betting, as online wagering is now live.)

Legal sports betting is now in nine states and headed to more. But no single state is eating enough to replace Nevada at the top of the food chain yet.

Congratulations to NJ for stealing the Silver State’s sports betting crown for one month. But Nevada should continue its reign as the king of all sports betting states. At least until NJ can manage that win a month with one of the country’s biggest betting events in it.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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