The house doesn’t always win: NJ gamblers beat the bookkeepers… by $4.6m

Gamblers got the best of their bookies in New Jersey during this year’s Super Bowl as the state figures out how to balance its sports books.


February 7, 2019

This year was the first time gamblers in 7 states could legally bet on the Super Bowl.

Surprisingly, the bookies didn’t win across the board: In New Jersey, gamblers got the best of the ’books by $4.6m. Nevada was more normal: bet-takers got the better of bet-makers by $10.7m.

New Jersey bookies are rookies

Since gambling was already partially legal, the Dirty Jersey became one of the greatest (new) grounds for gamblers when the court struck down its ban on betting last year.

According to ESPN, Garden State gamblers put down $35m on the game — but they came away with even more.

In NJ, the betting platform DraftKings took 300k bets and lost $1m to gamblers. FanDuel took 350k bets but had an even worse day, losing more than $5m.

A gamble for the Garden State’s government

So, why did New Jersey bookies end up losing so badly? It really does have to do with NJ bookies being rookies. 

Sportsbooks make money by balancing the public’s betting habits. Since it’s harder to understand the public’s betting habits in places with less information about betting habits, it’s easier for bookies and casinos to lose in Newcomer Jersey than in Veteran Vegas.

But it’s not just casinos that lose. Since casinos and state tax authorities split losses, NJ’s government will probably lose some cash because of the bookies’ bad bets — while Nevada made $727k in tax revenue. 

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