The COVID-19 pandemic has not only shut down all of the New Jersey land-based casinos but also halted much of the sporting world. However, while the casinos remain closed, sports are coming back, which is why the latest gambling revenue figures offer hope for brighter times ahead.
After a paltry $54.6 million in April, the sports betting handle in May more than doubled to $117.8 million, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. With casinos and retail sportsbooks closed for the month, all of the handle came online. Despite a big improvement on the previous month, the total sports betting revenue of $9.9 million was a 36.2% decrease from May of 2019.
The reason things are looking up for sports betting in New Jersey is the resumption of events and leagues all over the world. The UFC and NASCAR are back, the NHL and NBA are expected to resume in late July, and the PGA Tour just finished its first tournament since play was suspended due to the pandemic. Abroad, the major soccer leagues are starting up again, while Australian football and the rugby codes are back in action.
On June 14, New Jersey celebrated the two-year anniversary of legal sports betting. The pandemic has hit the gaming industry hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Not only are sports coming back, but the tentative plan is to have land-based casinos reopened by the July 4 weekend. On top of that, the Garden State set a record for monthly online gambling revenue with a total of $85.9 million in May.
It looks as if the New Jersey gambling market has weathered the storm. The numbers are down from 2019, but that is expected with the casinos closed since mid-March and the lack of sports betting options. However, those options have greatly increased of late and will continue to do so.