For the fifth consecutive month, New Jersey set a monthly record for sports betting handle as gamblers wagered nearly $1 billion on sporting events in December.
Garden State bettors placed $996 million in bets throughout the month, according to numbers released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. December’s figures best the record set a month earlier when $803 million in bets were placed with New Jersey’s online and retail sportsbooks.
The revenue generated from the record-setting handle amounted to $166.3 million, which adds up to a 16.6% hold rate. The revenue is up 34.6% year-over-year as books won $123.5 million in December 2019.
Throughout all of 2020, New Jersey sportsbooks accepted more than $6 billion in wagers. As brick-and-mortar casino revenue have struggled recently to return to pre-coronavirus levels, the sports betting market has surged.
With the overwhelming majority of the bets placed online, it’s very easy to mitigate the spread of the virus and still gamble. Even those that choose the conventional brick-and-mortar route have minimal human interaction and is much safer from a virus standpoint than any other casino activity.
But unlike most of 2020, Atlantic City casinos saw a year-over-year increase in December. The city’s nine casinos won $312.9 million from gamblers, which was up 8.9% from a year ago. Year-to-date, New Jersey gross gaming revenue dipped from $3.469 billion in 2019 to $2.881 billion in 2020.
Aside from the pandemic affecting tourism and capacity limits for casinos, the virus caused Gov. Phil Murphy to close the industry entirely from mid-March until early July. The closures rendered a direct comparison to 2019 completely useless.
Internet gambling revenue more than doubled in that same timeframe with online operators raking in $99.5 million compared to $49.3 million in December 2019. The difference in online gaming revenue was the difference in the uptick in revenue as brick-and-mortar casinos saw a 29.5% decrease in revenue.
Borgata was once again the highest-grossing casino in the state with $39.6 million in December revenue. Those figures represent a 27.9% year-over-year dip from the $54.9 million it won in December 2019. Hard Rock Atlantic City was second on the list with $26.3 million, which was actually a 1.7% increase. The city’s nine casinos combined to win $147.1 million.
On the virtual side of the casino industry, there was no operator with more revenue than the Golden Nugget, which raked in $29.4 million from online gamblers. Borgata and Resorts were the only other properties to register more than $20 million in online revenue with $27.15 million and $21.01 million, respectively.