This was supposed to be a landmark time of the year.
Two of the biggest and flourishing legal sports betting industries were supposed to be reaping the rewards of one of the sporting year’s busiest times: March Madness, MLB, the Masters, and postseason pushes for the NBA and NHL.
What an incredible month — certainly one that would produce record-breaking sports betting handle and revenue numbers for both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Yet we were left wanting. The coronavirus pandemic shut it all down. All that’s left is what could have been.
That said, online gambling did not completely suffer. Rather, both online casinos and online poker saw an uptick. And last month, industries in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania seemingly compensated for a lack of sports.
New Jersey online gambling flourishes
Believe it or not, online gambling has been a mainstay in New Jersey for going on seven years. No month, however, has ever been as prosperous as March 2020.
Online casinos and poker operators reported a jaw-dropping $64.8 million in revenue. How big is that? Well, it sits nearly $13 million more than the previous month, for starters. More important, though, that total is the industry’s first month exceeding $60 million. And it’s actually nearly $10 million more than the state’s previous best monthly report.
If those feats aren’t enough, March 2020 numbers reflect an astonishing 65.6% increase year over year.
The kicker, though, lies with online poker. Entering March, this sector had not eclipsed $2 million in monthly revenue since August 2017. It hadn’t seen more than $3 million since October 2016. In January 2014, the state enjoyed its best poker month with $3.4 million in revenue.
You see where this is going: In March 2020, New Jersey online poker posted a whopping $3.6 million in revenue. Month over month, that’s a 101% spike.
All told, all but one online casino in the state reported record-setting revenue figures in March.
Certainly, these online platforms benefited from stay-at-home orders. Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the closure of Atlantic City casinos midway through the month. And when leagues began suspending and canceling events, online casinos and poker filled the void.
PA online gambling shows a similar trend
New Jersey was not alone in rewriting the history books.
Neighboring Pennsylvania was coming off a record-setting February. As the Keystone State nears the anniversary of its first online casinos, the industry put up yet another historic month.
Already trending upward, what with revenues up over 31% month to month since December, operators in March reported some $24.3 million in online revenue, marking a 24.5% increase from February. That total breaks down to a $12.4 million/$8.8 million/$3.1 million slash line for online slots/table games/poker.
It’s not just the revenue that stands out, but also the action. Consider players in Pennsylvania accounted for $871.6 million in total wagers, up nearly $170 million from the previous month. Staggering.
Like in New Jersey, the uptick in Pennsylvania can assuredly be attributed to mass shutdowns. With casinos closing down amid the coronavirus pandemic, overall gambling revenue in Pennsylvania actually dropped by 51%.
Takeaways from NJ, PA online gambling reports
Leagues and organizers suspending and canceling events sent a shockwave across not only the country but the world. What were fans and bettors to do?
From jump street, operators who integrated online casinos with online sportsbooks or vice versa made sure to cross-promote. The two industries appeal to different demographics. Get your slot players to notice the NFL lines, for example, or market table games to the everyday sports bettor.
March 2020 emerges as the most significant example of such strategies paying off.
What’s more, online gambling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania could open the eyes of lawmakers in other states. After all, those states could certainly use revenue from somewhere, right?