PlayUSA Rewind: No Stopping New Jersey’s Record Breaking Month

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on December 17, 2020

Usually, around this time of year, the records being set are on the gridiron. Most passing touchdowns in a season, most rushing yards, most receiving yards, you get the idea.

But instead, the big record most gambling experts are raving about is most sports betting handle in a single month.

This week, New Jersey breaks another record, Pennsylvania casinos close, and Penn National Gaming gains market access to Maryland.

On the rewind:

New Jersey is the sports betting king

For the fourth consecutive month, the honor of sports betting capital in the US goes to New Jersey. This time, the Garden State took $931.6 million in bets in November.

Let me say that again, OVER $930 MILLION!

To put that into perspective, New Jersey has seen its handle total increase each month since August.

  • Aug. $668 million (up 39.4%)
  • Sept. $748.6 million (up 24.4%)
  • Oct. $803.1 million (up 16%)

New Jersey continues to be the go-to sports betting hub in the US, a title previously held by Nevada since well, the beginning.

On top of record handle numbers, sports betting revenue was $50.6 million (5.4% hold), according to the state report. This translated to $6.2 million in state taxes.

The takeaway: With the addition of November, New Jersey sports betting handle has crossed the $5 billion mark for 2020. Of course, all of this is due to a number of factors but we can point to two specific ones: New York state and mobile wagering. The Empire State only has retail-based sports betting which puts pretty extreme limitations on where bets can be placed. This bleeds right into the second factor, mobile wagering, which allows residents of Manhattan to venture just far enough into New Jersey where they can place bets from a smartphone.

Pennsylvania casinos close, again

For the second time this year, all PA casinos are shut down from Dec. 12 – Jan. 4 in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

In a press conference, Gov. Tom Wolf said called the COVID-19 situation in PA “dire” and said increased measures needed to be taken. For now, all 12 Pennsylvania casinos have closed their doors for a minimum of three weeks, which is a small window in the bigger scheme of things.

For an in-depth timeline of events, head over to PlayPennsylvania.

For updates on casinos nationwide, visit our Casino Closures story.

The takeaway: This is another major blow to brick-and-mortar establishments in Pennsylvania who already lived through this nightmare once before. Casino executives sent a two-page letter to Wolf detailing the impact another round of closures could have on the 18,000 industry employees. On the flip side of things, Wolf has to do what’s best for the millions of people affected by this deadly virus. If that means shutting down casinos for three weeks to potentially save lives, well, the Governor must do what he thinks is best for his state.

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Penn National’s road map to Maryland

Our last story deals with the sleeping giant that is Penn National Gaming and its Barstool Sportsbook. As we are well aware, Maryland residents voted for the state legislature to craft a new sports betting bill.

Because of this, and the market value of Maryland, Penn National spent $31.1 million in cash to acquire the operations of Hollywood Casino Perryville. This means, you guessed it, a Barstool Sportsbook will eventually come to the Old Line State.

Hollywood Casino Perryville sits in a tiny little sweet spot between Baltimore and Philadelphia. The location could draw in traffic from both cities making it a smart business move for Penn National.

The takeaway: Maryland is becoming a hot-bed for sports betting activity. Although it is surrounded by states with sports betting, including Washington, DC, it can now capitalize by keeping bettors in-state rather than lose them to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This also extends the reach of Penn National and its new Barstool Sportsbook brand which is quietly becoming a market leader.

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Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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