New Jersey sports wagering venues have seen plenty of action in the few weeks since the first legal bets were taken, according to state officials.

The state’s three sports betting facilities captured $3.5 million in gross revenue in June from $16 million of wagers, according to data provided by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Legal sports wagering commenced on June 14 at Monmouth Park Racetrack and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa with the Ocean Resort Casino debuting on June 28.

A guest fills out a pick sheet during the launch of full-scale sports betting in Dover, Delaware, U.S., on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.
New Jersey's three sports betting facilities captured $3.5 million in gross revenue in June from $16 million of pro sports wagers, according to a state report. Bloomberg News

State lawmakers moved quickly to fast-track legislation for sports gambling after a May 14 Supreme Court ruling overturned a 26-year old federal ban.

“The early numbers show that my predictions that this was going to be a huge benefit to the state of New Jersey and will give a huge boost to our racetracks and casinos was right on target,” said former State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Elizabeth, who spearheaded New Jersey’s efforts to offer legalized sports betting after filing a lawsuit in 2009 with support from the state legislature. “This demonstrates that my eight-year fight for sports betting was worth every penny.”

Lesniak said he expects sports betting revenue to soar during the football season this fall when more wagering venues are open. Meadowlands Racetrack began taking sports wagers on July 14 and five applications were submitted my Atlantic City gambling companies on July 16, according to Division of Gaming Enforcement spokeswoman Kerry Langan.

State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio estimated in late May that sports betting would likely only result in $13 million of new revenue for the 2019 fiscal year. A recent Oxford Economics study forecast that under the “most advantageous scenarios,” New Jersey would net sports betting revenues between $330 million and $650 million. Municipal Markets Analytics analyst Lisa Washburn said in a May 21 report that the Oxford projections would translate “well under $100 million” in direct gambling taxes to New Jersey with the potential for total fiscal impacts to the state and its local governments of between $100 million and $140 million.

Atlantic City won't directly collect on sports betting, but parts of the Investment Alternative Tax redirects New Jersey revenue to pay down city debt service under a state takeover plan that took effect in November 2016. Moody's Investors Service analyst Baye Larsen noted in a May report that increased gambling collections will help increase the size of casino payments-in-lieu-of-taxes to Atlantic City, but cautioned that benefits may be muted by internet wagering.

New Jersey is seeking new revenue streams to combat years of structural budget deficits that have contributed to the state’s bond ratings dipping to the second lowest among U.S. states.

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