Gov. Phil Murphy, whose name adorns last year’s groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing sports betting, was given a hero’s standing ovation Thursday at a gaming conference in Atlantic City, where he proclaimed the Garden State to be the nation’s coming No. 1 location for sports wagering.
“New Jersey — yes, New Jersey — can very soon and will very soon dethrone Nevada as the sports gaming capital of America,” Murphy told the East Coast Gaming Conference and NextGen Gaming Forum at the Harrah’s Conference Center.
New Jersey soon will record $3 billion in sports bets since legal sports betting launched last June, and is likely to overtake Nevada in gross sports handle in the next year. Sixteen states have legalized sports betting in the last year, and about eight, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, have launched operations.
Murphy was elected in 2017 and inherited the sports-betting litigation initiated by Gov. Chris Christie — the case had been renamed Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association by the time the Supreme Court made its decision.
He embraced sports betting and the Atlantic City gambling industry as major economic drivers in New Jersey. He said the industry was driving “a new mindset and a new sense of optimism" about the Shore resort.
The boost from sports betting and last year’s reopening of two casino-hotels in Atlantic City contributed to a 7 percent increase — $200 million in gaming revenue last year, he said.
Atlantic City reported a 20 percent increase in room-night stays — up by 151,000 — and a 30 percent increase in related sales tax revenue from tourism, he said.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement on Wednesday reported that total gaming revenue for May was $276.8 million compared with $217.7 million in May 2018, a 27.1 percent increase. Sports betting gross revenue was $15.5 million for the month on $318.9 million in bets placed.