October 12, 2018 / 10:12 PM / 4 days ago

UPDATE 1-New Jersey sports betting activity nearly doubles in September

(Adds FanDuel statement)

By Hilary Russ

Oct 12 (Reuters) - Sports betting activity in New Jersey nearly doubled in the month of September, growing to $183.9 million compared with $95.6 million the prior month, on a wave of new internet wagers and the start of football season, according to figures released on Friday.

On-site sports wagers placed at casinos and racetracks rose by $5.1 million to $79 million in the month of September, a 7 percent increase, data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement showed.

That was eclipsed by the total of wagers placed over the internet, which was $104.9 million versus $21.7 million the previous month.

That growth is in part because four new sites launched internet sportsbooks in September, compared with only three that had come online in August.

Everyone from casinos and professional sports leagues to media companies and technology providers are watching New Jersey as a test case to see how large the nascent U.S. sports betting industry could ultimately grow.

A U.S. Supreme court decision in May threw out a 1992 prohibition against the activity, opening the door to any state that wants to legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering. New Jersey is the first major state to have done so after the ruling.

The “explosive growth” in sports wagering contributed to a 19.5 percent overall increase in New Jersey’s total gaming revenue to $281.7 million in September versus the same month the previous year, division director David Rebuck said in a statement.

Total gaming revenue so far this year is up 5.4 percent to $2.15 billion.

“Consumer response continued to exceed our expectations in September,” said fantasy sports provider FanDuel Group in a statement on Friday. FanDuel, a unit of Irish sportsbook operator Paddy Power Betfair PLC, launched a sportsbook at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Racetrack in September.

Since sports betting went live in New Jersey on June 14, $328 million of sports wagers have been placed, according to the data. Of that handle - or the total amount of bets placed - New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks reaped $40.5 million of gross revenue.

The state, in turn, received $4.2 million of taxes from the 8.5 percent tax on sports betting revenues and the 13 percent tax on internet sports betting revenues. (Reporting by Hilary Russ Editing by Chris Reese)

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