(Gloucestercitynews.net)(August 16, 2019)--It feels a little like ancient history now, but it’s actually just a little over a year since New Jersey went all the way to the Supreme Court, and secured the right for its citizens to place bets on sports events. The bill permitting wagers to be placed on sports was signed in June 2018, with Governor Phil Murphy placing the first legal bet. For the record, he backed the New Jersey Devils to bring home the Stanley Cup, and tournament favorites Germany to win soccer's World Cup, which was happening that summer. He backed losers in both instances, unwittingly highlighting the fact that people who place bets are generally more likely to lose than they are to win.
Sports betting is still new, but it's at the older end of the 'new' scale. Citizens know its there, and the state's accountants are getting used to dealing with the revenue that comes from it. Everybody is aware that they can now bet on sports if they want to do so, and the novelty is beginning to wear off. Now that sports betting is a fact of life in New Jersey (and the flames of Hell haven't risen to claim the land, as some conservative groups warned they might), has it been beneficial overall? Resoundingly, all the people who have access to the facts and figures which could answer that question say 'yes.'
Even without counting a cent that’s come across the counters of New Jersey bookmakers, the success of the state in succeeding at the Supreme Court opened the doors for other states to do the same. Regardless of whether New Jersey ever made a dime out of sports betting, it’s allowed citizens of other states to place bets on sports in their own areas. That’s great from a civil liberties point of view, but it’s also provided a welcome boost for brick-and-mortar casinos.
Many of the venues which have been granted a license to handle sports betting are casinos, and the casinos are especially glad of the trade. In recent years, online casinos and mobile slots have been steadily eating into their profits. There’s simply no away a land-based casino can compete with the number of games available at a mobile slots website like KongCasino.com, and so players increasingly choose to play at home. Not only that, but as mobile slots have fewer overheads, the return-to-player rate for a mobile slot tends to be better than that of a physical slots cabinet. Taken all together, the picture was looking grim for casinos until sports betting came along to bring them customers, and provide them with a fresh source of income. It may even have saved the industry at a local level.
To give you an idea of how successful the last year has truly been for New Jersey and it’s newly-liberated sports betting industry, this past May the state overtook Nevada as the sports betting capital of the United States of America. Atlantic City could soon inherit the casino crown from Las Vegas.
Years of Refusal
Now we know that the industry works for New Jersey, it’s a little hard to follow why we resisted for so long. In truth, we didn’t need to. We would have got here a lot faster had the state not been sued by the very sports people are now placing bets on. Here’s a little history lesson for those who don’t know the full story.
Back in 1992, sports betting was permitted in only four states of the USA. Raymond Lesniak, who was the New Jersey state senator back then, thought opening up to sports betting might be a great way to help casinos and racing tracks make a little extra income. Governor Chris Christie agreed with him, and signed approval for sports betting into New Jersey law, but immediately found his state on the end of a lawsuit from sports organizations large and small, who claimed that if people were able to bet on the outcome of their games, it would open the games up to corruption.
For years, the representatives of the teams and organizations beat this drum in court against Christie and New Jersey but ran out of luck in the Supreme Court last May. The Supreme Court confirmed what should have been patently obvious in 1992 - the ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, and so were the efforts to suppress it.
We may only have had fourteen months of sports betting since then, but we’ve been given a clear indication of its potential value to the state’s bottom line - three billion taxable dollars have been spent betting in New Jersey since the ban was overturned.
Onward Into The Future
With the future of the industry secure, casino companies have been expanding. There are now two more casinos in Atlantic City than there were a year ago. Casino revenue is more than 25% up month-for-month in 2019 against 2018. As spending on the activity goes up, that means richer casinos, and healthier streams of tax revenue for the state. Nobody yet knows what the full value of the tax revenue will be. For the first year, officials are expecting somewhere between $20m and $25m. That may seem small in the context of the billions being spent, but the majority of money spent on betting is split between the winning gamblers, and the operators. Over time, the figure is likely to creep up - and $25m spent on public services can go a long way.
Perhaps ironically, the reason that sports betting has been more successful in New Jersey than in other states which have legalized the activity is the same reason we mentioned when we were discussing the struggles of brick-and-mortar casinos - mobile betting. Not every state which permits sports betting has allowed for mobile betting, but New Jersey has. Up to 80 percent of the sports bets placed in the state are wagered via mobile. It's believed that some New York State natives even cross into New Jersey just to place sports bets through their phone.
Nobody knows if the rising levels of interest in betting on sports will last forever, but equally, nobody can deny that it's been a roaring success so far. As far as we're aware, not a single professional or college sports game has been called into question in terms of bribery or fixing, and new casinos have provided new jobs for New Jersey natives.
It might take a few years to knock Las Vegas off its perch completely, but if any state can do it, it’s New Jersey.