New Jersey Sportsbooks Get Crushed In Their Inaugural Super Bowl

RotoGrinders

An old gambling axiom is that the house always wins. That wasn’t the case in New Jersey this past weekend when the Garden State had licensed sportsbooks taking bets on the Super Bowl for the first time.

According to revenue reports posted by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey sportsbooks took a $4.6 million loss on $34.9 million wagered on the Super Bowl LIII, in which the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 to win their sixth Super Bowl title. New Jersey books had a negative hold of about 13 percent across 10 brick-and-mortar and 11 mobile sportsbooks.

It was a different story in Nevada where books won $10.7 million on $145.9 million wagered on the Super Bowl. The $145.9 million bet on the Super Bowl is the second-most ever in Nevada, but down from last year’s record handle of $158.45 million when the Philadelphia Eagles upset the Patriots. Nevada sportsbooks had a hold of 7.4 percent.

Nevada sportsbooks have only lost two Super Bowls since 1991. New Jersey is 0-for-1.

Disappointing result for New Jersey

Not only did the sportsbooks lose money but the just under $35 million wagered on the game is significantly lower than what many industry experts had projected for betting handle for the first Super Bowl.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, DraftKings Sportsbook lost over $1 million on the game. FanDuel, SugarHouse and William Hill’s New Jersey sportsbooks also reported losses on the Super Bowl. Online sportsbook BetStars was the lone shop in New Jersey to report it came out ahead on the game.

Patriots make FanDuel pay

FanDuel Sportsbook was hit particularly hard, losing an estimated $5 million, according to the company’s press release after the game. While many New Jersey books took more action on the Patriots than some Las Vegas shops — the Patriots being an East coast team and familiar foe of the New York Jets and Giants — FanDuel was encouraging New England money.

Most books had the Patriots at -2.5 but FanDuel held at -2 the week leading up to the game. They didn’t go to -2.5 until Saturday afternoon. Despite already having a significant bet count on the Patriots, FanDuel was happy to take on more exposure and it cost them.

“We’re actually holding at -2 on the Patriots and most of New Jersey is at 2.5,” John Sheeran, risk manager for FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands, told RotoGrinders the week of the Super Bowl. “We’ll likely keep that position right through kickoff just because we believe the line should be closer to pick rather than having New England favored. As a result of that, we are seeing a heavy bias to New England but that’s a position we’re happy to be in.”

Julian Edelman no MVP to sportsbooks

(USA Today Images)

Another big blow to FanDuel was Julian Edelman winning Most Valuable Player. Edelman opened at 50/1 to win MVP at FanDuel and was bet down to 31/1 a few hours before kickoff.

Sheeran said they had high exposure on Edelman to win MVP and at the time, he was content to be in that position because a scenario where Edelman winning over Tom Brady was difficult to envision. But it happened and Edelman’s MVP performance — 10 receptions and 141 yards, roughly 54 percent of Brady’s total yardage — was a big factor in FanDuel losing $5 million on the Super Bowl.

Bettors suffering from Patriots fatigue?

In Nevada, it’s hard to say the second biggest Super Bowl handle ever is disappointing, but many expected to break last year’s $158.45 million record. Instead, the state took in eight percent less this year than for the Patriots-Eagles tilt.

There are a couple reasons for the slight decrease. The most obvious is eight other states offered legalized sports betting during the Super Bowl for the first time. While Las Vegas is still the prime destination for major sporting events like the Super Bowl and March Madness, it stands to reason they would take a small hit with other states now offering sports betting.

Another theory is people have “Patriots fatigue.” Ed Salmons, sportsbook manager at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook believes last year’s record-handle would have been broken if the Chiefs were in the Super Bowl instead of the Patriots.

“People are tired of the Patriots,” Salmons told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I really think the Patriots’ fatigue thing played a role. Everybody wanted to see the Chiefs against the Saints or the Rams. I’d be willing to bet if the Chiefs were in the game, the handle would’ve [blown] away last year’s record.”

New record was expected in Nevada

While that may be the case, it should be pointed out that no one was complaining about Patriots fatigue earlier in the week when they predicted the state would surpass last year’s Super Bowl betting handle.

Everyone we spoke to leading up to the Super Bowl expected Nevada to set a new record in 2019 by 10 percent or more.

“We expect to surpass last year’s numbers just because the overall popularity of the event continues to grow” Jay Kornegay, Westgate’s vice president of race and sports operations said the week before the game. “People have mobile applications and can bet throughout the entire game, so that’s a big factor. Despite the Patriots being in there once again, it’s an event that America loves. And they love betting on the event. We expect to set a new record this year.”

The Patriots covering the spread didn’t help either New Jersey or Las Vegas. More money was bet on New England than the Rams at most sportsbooks. However, while the house won again in Nevada, New Jersey came up short in its first Super Bowl. Now, onto March Madness, where New Jersey sportsbooks will try to even the score with bettors.

About the Author

  • Thomas Casale (tcasale)

  • Thomas Casale is the Editor of Sports Betting Content for RotoGrinders. He's been following the sports betting industry for almost 30 years. Before coming to RotoGrinders, Thomas contributed to The Linemakers and worked as an editor at BetChicago. He's also provided fantasy sports analysis for multiple websites and print publications, while covering the NFL, college football, college basketball and MMA at different media outlets.