Get A Grip: New Jersey Breaks Record (Again!), Virginia Sporsbook Application Flood, Masters-NFL Sunday, More

It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend (or fashionably late) Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories. Also check out this week’s Wild World of Gambling at US Bets

New Jersey re-sets monthly handle record: $803M

nj betting
(Statistics via New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement)

For the third consecutive month, bettors at Garden State sportsbooks have raised the ceiling for the single-month record for total dollars wagered (the “handle”) in any U.S. jurisdiction. The new high dollar mark is now $803.1 million wagered on sporting events in October, breaking the previous nationwide record of $748.6 million set in New Jersey (and nationwide) in September 2020, which had broken the earlier record of $667.9 million one month earlier.

Prior to August, Nevada, still the U.S. sports betting mecca and home to synonymous-with-sports betting Las Vegas, held the single-month record for dollars handled at $614.1 million in November 2019.

Obviously, times are different now. The New Jersey market has continued to mature, the COVID-19 pandemic has shuffled sporting events all over the calendar (peers at another window to check live Masters leaderboard), nearby New York bettors still do not have access to legal sportsbooks online.

The numbers obviously were driven by football, as the NFL has managed to stay on track with its irregular regular season, while the NCAA football schedule has suffered more setbacks — facing greater obstacles with its amateur “student” athletes across sprawling campuses.

Bettors and bookmakers in New Jersey traded blows, and ultimately the books kept 7.29% for the sweats, which is just a half tick higher than the lifetime average hold in New Jersey. The online handle once again cleared the 90% mark at 92.1%, not surprising giving that we’re in the midst of pandemic and phones are modern appendages. Carry the nine and it spells a collective $58 million revenue for the licensed sportsbooks for October and $7.4 million in tax revenue for Jersey. FanDuel- and DraftKings-affiliated casino properties once again led the way in volume and revenue.

When might NJ reach 1 billion for a month? I can make a case for any of the next three months. Not now, though. See you this time next month.

Elsewhere in single-month state handle records set in October:

  • Indiana’s new record is now $239.0 million.
  • Iowa climbed to a new high at $81.9 million. Iowa is almost certain to see a new record in January 2021 when its law requiring that patrons sign up in person for a mobile/online sportsbook account will sunset. Meaning lots of accounts will be opened as patrons across the state give new platforms a whirl, whether or not they’re close to that sportsbook’s partner casino.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ sluggish-to-report gaming board on Friday reported $285 million for September.

Stiff competition coming in Virginia

The Virginia Lottery on Thursday announced that it received 25 applications from sports betting operators — and it has fewer than 15 licenses to give out. The Lottery application window was Oct. 15-31. Though the Lottery is not releasing the names of VA sportsbook applicants, multiple major players have already confirmed they applied or already have market access.

PointsBet acknowledged application during an earnings call, Wynn Resorts has a partnership with Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway, which would secure access, and according BetMGM’s third-quarter report the company has applied for a license. Hard Rock, Rush Street and William Hill/Caesars are all already partnered with casinos, giving them market access. Industry sources confirmed that DraftKings and FanDuel are among the applicants, as well.

According to the law, the Virginia Lottery must hand out at least four online licenses, and as many as 12. However, while that range includes any operator tethered to any of the four physical casinos, that top number does not include applications by operators tied to a pro sports venue (Washington Football Team, DC United, auto race tracks) with a headquarters, game-day facility, or practice facility in Virginia. In effect, the maximum number of licenses that could currently be issued is 15, and so far, three of those are spoken for through the casinos, meaning more than 20 applicants are vying for about a dozen remaining licenses.

“The high level of interest by national and international sports betting operators validates Virginia’s efforts to strike an appropriate and responsible balance in its regulatory program for legalized sports betting,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall via press release. “We are confident that the deliberative review process we are undergoing now will result in a successful program that protects consumers, athletes, and taxpayers.”

Hall has previously said the Lottery is aiming to approve applications and get operators live early in 2021. Virginia lawmakers legalized sports betting on April 22. The new law allows for statewide mobile sports betting and retail sports betting at up to five brick-and-mortar casinos. Casinos were approved in four cities on the Nov. 3 ballot, while the fate of a potential Richmond casino is still pending.

— by Jill R. Dorson

More important, interesting stories this week

TIGER ROARING? Golfer’s fast start a big liability for sportsbooks. [Sportico]

TERRITORY: Penn National, Wynn seeking to control Massachusetts sports betting market [Lowell Sun]

STAY TUNED: Fate of Illinois sports betting remote registration falls to Pritzker, again [SH]

EARNINGS: DraftKings’ revenue increases in Q3 with push from Windy City [SH]

FANDUEL PARENT: Flutter records 30% rise in revenues, adjusts full-year forecast [CDC Gaming]

WYNNBET: Wynn Resorts debuts Wynn Interactive and expansion plans [SH]

MOVIN’ ON: VSiN exiting SiriusXM to pursue broader audiences on free audio platforms [BSM]

ASSOCIATION: NCAA speaks up on its sports betting position [US Bets]

TO THE NORTH: Canada closer to allowing single-game wagering [MI Bets]

GAME OFF: Ivy League first D-I conference to cancel winter sports [WSJ]

Have a good weekend, folks.

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