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How has coronavirus impacted sports betting in N.J.? March numbers show stunning losses

15th April, 19:02

With a lack of sports to bet on -- in the United States and abroad -- New Jersey's sports betting industry has taken a breathtaking shot to the ribs from the coronavirus pandemic, according to numbers released Wednesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

In March, $181.9 million was wagered at New Jersey sportsbooks -- a drop of 63.2% from last month and down 51.2% from March 2019.

Betting provided $13.2 million in gross revenue for the state's 10 sports-betting operators and $1.7 million in tax revenue for the state. The numbers pale in comparison to March 2019, when New Jersey bettors wagered a total of $372.5 million, and sports-betting operators raked in $31.7 million, while the state collected $3.7 million in tax revenue.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on sports in the United States, resulting in the suspension of the NBA and NHL seasons just before the playoffs, the postponement of the Major League Baseball season and the cancellation of college basketball's NCAA Tournament, to name a few of the casualties. Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the temporary closure of all New Jersey casinos and racetracks on March 16 to control the coronavirus spread.

The suspension of the NBA season on March 12 and the cancelation of the NCAA Tournament on March 17 had a huge impact on the sports betting totals. Consider:

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In May 2018, New Jersey won its decade-long quest for sports betting thanks to a Supreme Court's decision to throw out the federal ban. And, until now, it has resulted in a huge financial windfall for the state.

In the first 21 months since the first bet was placed, bettors wagered $6.87 billion while the 10 regulated sports-betting operators collected $464 million in gross revenues. The state budget reaped the benefits, with $55.8 million collected in tax revenue from June 2018 through February 2020.

In 2019 alone, bettors wagered $4.55 billion in New Jersey. In its first full year of its foray into legalized sports betting, the Garden State approached the godfather of the gambling industry -- Nevada reported a $5.319 billion handle on sports betting last year.

While bettors combined to collect $291.3 million -- a 6.3% win percentage -- the result for New Jersey's sports-betting operators was $299.3 million in gross revenues.

State officials initially forecasted sports betting to generate $25 million annually in tax revenue. But that goal was smashed in the first full year of legalized sports betting, with $36.7 million in tax revenue funneled to the state in 2019.

New Jersey was on pace to smash its 2019 numbers, as $1.03 billion was wagered through the first two months. In comparison, New Jersey's sports betting handle for the first two months of 2019 was $705.6 million.

New Jersey's top two players in the market also revealed huge losses.

FanDuel, which operates the sports book at the Meadowlands Racetrack, reported $119.9 million in gross revenues in 2019. The track, which netted $17.6 million in March 2019, reported $5.9 million in gross revenues last month.

DraftKings, which partnered with Resorts in Atlantic City, reported $79.8 million in gross revenues in 2019 and $7.4 million in March 2019. Its' March 2020 total was $5 million.

Monmouth Park, which partnered with William Hill, had a gross revenues total of $21.7 million in 2019. But, one year after generating nearly $2.7 million, the Jersey Shore venue raked in just $849,040 last month.

With the MLB, NBA and NHL seasons suspended, the options for New Jersey bettors, according to the William Hill online sports book, include Russian table tennis, the Chinese basketball league, Nicaraguan soccer and the Icons of Darts League.

If you would like updates on New Jersey-specific coronavirus news, subscribe to our Coronavirus in N.J. newsletter.

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