Up until now, Nevada has been the sports betting leader in the United States, but that began to change in 2018. That’s when the US Supreme Court struck down the ban on sports betting, allowing every state to offer legalized gambling on sports.
Two states back East quickly gained ground on the Western state, and now, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as leaders in sports betting. In fact, New Jersey has now stripped the Silver State of its title, and taken the lead in the nation’s sports betting industry. Now that Pennsylvania has legalized sports betting, the Keystone State is closing in on second place.
In September, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey set records for total sports betting handle; in fact, New Jersey shattered all industry records. That month, handle in New Jersey totaled $748.6 million, easily surpassing the Garden State’s previous record of $668 million set in August. Nevada previously held the record for the biggest sports betting handle with a little more than $600 million in November 2019. Fortunately, the sports betting revenue in the Silver State is slowly recovering after the coronavirus shutdowns, just not as quickly as New Jersey.
Pennsylvania is doing quite well, reporting a sports betting handle of nearly $463 million for September, almost $100 million more than the state’s previous record. If that trend continues for Pennsylvania, it could surpass Nevada as well.
Traditionally, September is a big month for sports betting, as both college and NFL football begin their seasons. However, in 2020, both football and several other sports canceled or delayed their seasons, as COVID-19 shutdown orders and social distancing measures prevented play.
Nevada Sports Betting Falling Behind Other States
Nevada has not yet released its sports betting figures for September, but the state’s total for August was $474 million. While this set an August record for Nevada, it’s not likely that the September sports betting handle will equal that of New Jersey.
Blake Weishaar an analyst for Fantini Research thinks that New Jersey has surpassed Nevada permanently as the leader of the US sports betting industry, and other states could do so also. Weishaar is certain that Nevada must make changes in the state’s in-person registration requirements, or it will simply fall behind.
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow sports bettors to register online or using a mobile app, making the process much easier. With more sign-ups, sportsbooks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have more traffic.
Furthermore, both eastern states can attract sports bettors that are simply visiting from across the river from New York, or visitors on vacations or business trips. On the other hand, Nevada’s online sportsbooks mainly get business from those that live in the state, or visitors there to specifically watch the game and bet on sports on the Vegas Strip.
Weishaar noted that both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are bordered by more densely populated and affluent states, such as New York and Massachusetts, leading to more bets. Of course, Las Vegas has many visitors every week from Los Angeles, and there are casinos along every major highway crossing over from Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon.
Barstool Sports Drives the Action in Pennsylvania
In September, Barstool Sportsbook launched its new app in Pennsylvania, and it’s already very popular. The Barstool Sports app broke all previous records for downloads, since the younger generation of sports bettors like it.
More than 90% of Pennsylvania’s bets are placed online, but the retail sportsbooks brought in the most revenue. That’s due to the mobile sports betting apps offer promotions and bonuses, while the retail sportsbooks do not.
Online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania posted a gross gambling revenue of a little more than $1 million for September, while retail sportsbooks grossed $1.7 million. In September, Barstool Sportsbook posted a gross deficit of nearly $2.8 million; but September was still a good month for the newest online sportsbook in the Keystone State.
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