New Jersey’s Director of Gaming Enforcement says goal is to become top US sports betting market, but how realistic is that goal?
David Rebuck, the ever-optimistic Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, made a bold proclamation last week when he told Gambling Compliance [paywall] that his goal is for New Jersey to be the top sports betting market in the United States.
And while the Garden State would find it a tall task to support a bigger sports betting market than New York or California, should those states go live, overtaking Nevada isn’t nearly as far fetched as it might sound, according to Adam Small, President and Chief Analyst at DGS Media, which tracks and analyzes New Jersey’s emerging sports betting and online gambling industry on its web site, NJOnlineGambling.com.
Ever since Stardust opened the first modern sports book in 1976, sports betting has been a major draw for Las Vegas casinos. Today there are nearly 200 facilities that will take your bet in the Silver State, and still only a handful in all other states combined.
“This is an advantage for Nevada well beyond simply being ‘first to market,’ as the vast majority of professionals in America that are needed to manage a successful sports book are based there,” Small explained in a recent article on NJOnlineGambling.com. “As a result, companies like William Hill have chose to set up their U.S. headquarters in Nevada.”
“In New Jersey, new books have to compete for talent with several other states that have launched or are launching sports betting this year, as well as other casinos and tracks housed in the Garden State,” Small explained. “There’s a rush to hire from Europe, but visa restrictions could make that challenging. Hiring is going to be a real issue for aspiring books outside of Nevada.”
On top of that, billions of dollars are brought to Nevada each year by millions of tourists, the analyst notes. “Even if New Jersey casinos are capable of replicating the operations of their Nevada counterparts, it’s hard to believe they’ll ever be able to replicate the massive international appeal of Las Vegas.”
New Jersey’s advantages
While Las Vegas has tremendous appeal for tourists, New Jersey’s population is simply much bigger, and wealthier. These factors have propelled New Jersey online gambling into a quarter-billion dollar a year industry.
“That’s important because online will be the key to sports betting success as well,” Small said. “Online sports betting should produce a ton more revenue than brick and mortar and could be a major driver of growth.”
“And in Nevada, well, online sports betting is just terrible. You can make bets on mobile apps, sure, but a requirement to register in person at a casino limits the growth potential. Off-site online sports betting is much less of a tourist attraction than brick & mortar sports books, and of course most of Las Vegas’s revenues come from tourists,” Small explained.
Meanwhile, New Jersey has done itself a favor by getting its online industry started ahead of border states Delaware and Pennsylvania. “New Jersey is, amazingly, the first state in the United States to offer off-site mobile betting without an in person registration requirement. The payoff should be substantial,” Small said.
What about other states?
New Jersey online sportsbooks might lose some revenue to neighboring states once they’re online too – especially Pennsylvania and New York. NYC and Philadelphia area customers who might cross the river to make bets would likely cease to do so once they have options in their own states, Small predicts.
New York is, in fact, the state that will have the biggest impact on New Jersey, depending on how things go with its own plans for betting. As things stand today, New Jersey venues (particularly Meadowlands) stand to gain in a big way from the hesitance of New York. And similarly, the millions who live in New York City only need to hop on a train to make online bets at a legal New Jersey betting site.
“It’s unlikely New Jersey will see a surge in tourism because of sports betting, particularly once several states in the region have also opened for business. But the short term effects should be positive for having gotten to market quickly,” Small said.
According to Adam Small and the analyst team at NJOnlineGambling.com, New Jersey has its work cut out if they want to be the leading provider of sports betting in the United States, as heavy regional competition, relatively low (compared to Las Vegas) levels of gambling tourism, and scarcity of talent will challenge the Garden State’s ambitions.
But David Rebuck, and the state of New Jersey, have been ambitious before about blazing trails in the modern, digital gambling world.
ABOUT DGS MEDIA
DGS Media operates NJOnlineGambling.com, an independent resource created by a team of iGaming professionals exclusively for New Jersey online gambling enthusiasts and industry followers. The web site covers the latest industry news, reviews of Garden State gaming operators, game guides and more.
In late 2017, DGS Media also launched PennBets.com, a similar resource for Pennsylvania residents. The company also publishes USBets.com, which tracks the emerging sports betting and legal online gambling industry as it expands across the United States.