New Jersey annual report reflects national pari-mutuel trends

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: April 19, 2017

Gross pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred races in New Jersey last year totaled $196.08 million, with $168.82 million (86%) wagered out of state, according to statistics in the 2016 New Jersey Racing Commission annual report.

The report reflects national trends in horse racing, including a sharp increase in advance deposit wagering, particularly through mobile devices.

The Thoroughbred numbers break down as follows: $184.10 million in handle for Monmouth and $11.98 million for Meadowlands. Overall, live and simulcast wagering via multiple sources in New Jersey totaled $666.19 million in 2016, which is down 2.6% from $684.25 million in 2012, according to the annual report.

The state’s ADW system, 4NJBets.com, operated via contract by TVG owner Betfair, generated $179.32 million in wagers last year, up 80.8% from $99.16 million in 2012. The report shows that Internet bets totaled $120.11 million in 2016, an increase of 29.8% from 2012, while wagers made through mobile devices came in at $52.60 million, a jump of 73.5% from 2012.

Handle generated at the state’s off-track betting facilities, which are operated by the tracks, increased 8.8% from 2012 ($152.45 million) to 2016 ($165.91 million). Favorites at Gloucester Township opened in 2014 and Favorites at Hillsborough opened in 2015.

The OTB handle leader in the state last year was Favorites at Woodbridge, where $60.83 million was wagered. Woodbridge and Hillsborough are operated by Monmouth Park and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

The annual report shows the decline of Atlantic City casino race book handle due to decisions by casino operators to abandon pari-mutuel betting. In 2012, when six casinos still offered simulcast wagering, handle totaled $63.18 million; that number dropped 46.1% to $34 million—all of it at Borgata—in 2016.

As for on-track handle on live Thoroughbred and Standardbred races in New Jersey, it fell 24.8% from $60.79 million in 2012 to $45.71 million to last year. The numbers reflect the closure of Atlantic City Race Course, which held its last live meet in 2014.

Wagering on live races at Monmouth in 2016 totaled $22.43 million, down 17.6% from $27.23 million in 2012, in part because of fewer racing days.

The complete NJRC annual report is available here.

(THA photo of Monmouth Park)