New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy addresses an audience at the Betting On Sports America conference, Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Secaucus, N.J. Murphy predicted New Jersey's fast growing sports betting market could surpass that of Nevada by next year. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New Jersey gov: We could be top US sports bet market by 2020

April 24, 2019 - 1:29 pm

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey's quick growth in sports gambling means it could surpass Nevada next year as the top sports betting market in the United States, its governor said Wednesday.

In the 10 months that New Jersey has allowed legal sports betting, gamblers have wagered more than $2.3 billion, a pace that would put it in the same conversation as Nevada, which took in more than $5 billion in bets last year.

"Nevada is clearly in our sights," Democrat Phil Murphy said, speaking at the Betting on Sports America conference. "We can overtake it as early as next year."

New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case last year that cleared the way for any states to legalize sports betting if desired. Eight currently take wagers and many more are considering it.

Gambling analyst Chris Grove of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, says it's possible that New Jersey could become the top market next year due to a number of advantages.

"New Jersey's population advantage, drive-in traffic from New York, and superior mobile sports betting product are the primary forces driving New Jersey ahead of Nevada," he said. "It's not a guarantee, but it's certainly plausible."

New Jersey has nearly 9 million residents, about three times that of Nevada, where gambling is a tourist-driven industry.

Of course, New Jersey could be passed by other states as markets develop throughout the country. Right now, New Jersey benefits from a lack of legal sports betting in New York, and Pennsylvania's market is still in its infancy. As they did with land-based casinos, those states could cut deeply into any market advantage New Jersey has if New York approves sports betting in the next few years.

Jim Plousis, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, said the current trends put New Jersey in a good place.

"It would mean bragging rights, not just for the country but for the whole world in terms of making this the place people in this industry want to be," he said.

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