BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Sports wagering is taking a bite out of black market betting in NJ

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

With giant scissors, Giants Hall of Famer Harry Carson cut the ribbon opening the new DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts in Atlantic City. Carson also placed the first bet, $10 on the Yankees to win the next World Series, but local Tom Foley was looking at football for Dec. 9.

“I hate to say this as an Eagles fan, but I bet the Cowboys to win, and the over,” Foley said.

With venues boasting wall-to-wall TV screens, a plush bar and convenient kiosks, revenue figures show patrons are betting where the action’s legal and the odds more favorable.

“You don’t have to worry about looking over your shoulder. You don’t have to worry about illegal betting,” said one of the patrons, Robert Ryan.

“There’s a huge market out there that’s been untapped, that wants a legal sports betting option,” said Dustin Gouker, the managing editor of LegalSportsReport.com and PlayNJ.com.

Since the first bet at Monmouth Park in June, gamblers in New Jersey have wagered $597 million on sports through October, generating $52 million in revenue for operators and $5.5 million in taxes for the state. They’re figures that could easily surpass the state treasurer’s original forecast of $124 million in revenue and $13 million in taxes for this fiscal year.

“Last month there was more than a quarter of a billion dollars in total wagers. That’s already halfway to what we usually see in a busy month in Nevada,” said Gouker.I think we expect to see New Jersey eventually surpass Nevada.”

“We’ve already exceeded our internal expectations for the Q4 of this year, so we’ll see how the market plays out,” said Tim Dent, the CFO and CCO of DraftKings.

Nine live retail books and eight mobile sites are now active in New Jersey and face no real competition yet from New York or Pennsylvania. The Jersey market’s exploding online. Seventy-five percent of all revenues come from digital wagers with twenty-five percent coming from retail. Daily Fantasy Sports icons FanDuel and DraftKings currently control 60 percent of the market. And of those two, it’s DraftKing’s Resorts that’s market king.

“Just last month, Resorts digital produced 43 percent of the total sports betting revenue,” Dent said.

But monopolies don’t last forever. Nick drove to Atlantic City from Queens to place his bets.

“It’s not legal in New York. The governor’s too dumb,” said Nick.

“As soon as the state Legislature passes enabling legislation, we will be doing in New York what we’re doing here in New Jersey, and we’re in active conversations to be doing the same in Pennsylvania,” said Dent.

Sports betting can throw some odd revenue curves. Bettors wagered $174.3 million in September and the operators kept a nice 13 percent cut. However, bettors wagered 42 percent more in October, $260.7 million, but operators kept only 4.5 percent of that. Sports isn’t like slots.

“People have to realize, it’s called gambling,” said David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. “It’s a very fluid gambling activity and it’s not as stable as you would think. So there’s peaks and valley based on upsets.”

Bottom line, you can count on sports betting to generate strong revenues, especially online, but don’t bet on consistent numbers.