March Madness Was Crazy For New Jersey Sportsbooks

  • NJ books took $106 million in bets and earned $10 million in revenue on March Madness wagers.
  • March saw area books earn $31.7 million in total revenue on a $372.5 million handle.

TRENTON, N.J. – When it comes to US bettors and when and how they spend their money on marquee events, the conventional wisdom has long been that the Super Bowl is first, and everything else is a far-off second.

New Jersey’s March Madness numbers just proved that that’s not entirely the case.

Yes, the Super Bowl is the single biggest betting event in America, but there is a clear runner-up: the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Granted this latter is a 67-game affair and not a single contest (so it isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison), it should still be quite illuminating to those just familiarizing themselves with the sports wagering industry.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement * *, for the March Madness tournament, state sportsbooks (both land-based and online) hauled in over $10 million in revenue on a handle of $106 million for a roughly 10 percent hold.

Marching To The Beat

When looking at the total March numbers, there’s even more to celebrate for New Jersey books, as the month represents their biggest haul to date.

During March, area books combined to earn $31.7 million in revenue on $372.5 million in wagers. While that handle is down slightly from January’s $385 million record, the books’ collective hold is way up.

This can also be viewed as something of a recovery from New Jersey’s disastrous Super Bowl fiasco, where area sportsbooks combined to lose $4.5 million on the marquee betting event of the year. That brought February’s revenue total down to just $12.7 million.

In fact, March was almost twice as profitable as the state’s next best month, which was September 2018. Books that month held $23.9 million. March’s figure represents a 30 percent gain on that record.

Is New Jersey’s March Madness Sustainable?

Despite the good news, there is the concern that this kind of sportsbook hold is not sustainable. That might not be entirely based in reality, however.

At least, not so far.

In March, New Jersey sportsbooks held a collective 8.5 percent of the total handle. That is a very high rate, as most books are considered successful if they can crack the 6 percent threshold. (Nevada’s historical hold rate is closer to 5 percent.)

However, 8.5 percent isn’t near the top of the list when it comes to New Jersey’s monthly holds to date.

In June 2018, when the first New Jersey sportsbooks opened, the state recorded a hold of 21.3 percent. July and August saw holds of 9.3 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. September’s hold was 13 percent.

All told, since sports wagering was first offered to the public in New Jersey, state books have established an 8.89 percent win rate.

If the state’s sports betting venues can keep sports betting in New Jersey up, Atlantic City – and the rest of the once-flagging New Jersey gambling industry – will be back in black way ahead of schedule.

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