The start of the pro and college football seasons led the volume of sports betting in New Jersey to nearly double in September from its level a month earlier.
Figures released Friday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show nearly $184 million was bet on sports in New Jersey last month, up from nearly $96 million in August.
Since it began in mid-June, sports betting has attracted over $336 million in bets in the state. The industry in New Jersey has been keeping just under 8 percent of the amount bet as earnings after winning bets are paid out.
New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May that cleared the way for all 50 states to offer sports betting should they choose.
The extra money from sports betting helped lift Atlantic City's nine casinos to $272.2 million in revenue in September, an increase of 15.5 percent from a year ago. And internet gambling, another growth industry in New Jersey, was up 26.3 percent to $25.7 million.
But it was the sports betting numbers that were most closely watched by industry observers. With this latest increase, New Jersey is at least putting itself in the same conversation as Nevada, whose sports books were until recently the only place in the U.S. to legally bet on individual games. Nevada booked $247 million worth of sports bets in August, the most recent month for which statistics are available.
"I just love this," said Brian James of New York City, a repeat patron of the William Hill Sports Book at Atlantic City's Ocean Resort Casino. "It's way better than having to find a bookie or a guy you know from the barber shop."
James said he recently just missed on a 7-team parlay bet involving football; six of his teams won but the seventh lost, costing him a payout of $51,000.
Since New Jersey won its Supreme Court case, it has been joined by Delaware, West Virginia and Mississippi, which are slowly getting their sports betting operations under way. Mississippi took $9.8 million in bets in August and the first three days of September, while West Virginia saw about $5 million in bets in August.
Nevada's sports books handled $286.5 million in June; $244.6 million in July and $247.6 million in August.
In New Jersey, football has accounted for more than $94 million in bets since June, with baseball bringing in nearly $119 million. Parlay bets, in which the outcomes of two or more contests must be won in order to receive a payout, accounted for nearly $36 million.
And it's already becoming clear that sports gamblers prefer to do their betting online or over their smart phones. Of the $336 million in sports bets made in New Jersey so far, $210 million were placed online as opposed to a casino or racetrack.
Resorts Digital, the online arm of Resorts Casino, which has partnered with DraftKings, reported $8.5 million in sports betting revenue in September. The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, where FanDuel runs the sports book, reported $7.2 million, and Monmouth Park, where William Hill runs the racetrack sport book, reported $2.2 million for the month.
"Consumer response continued to exceed our expectations in September," said FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessy. "We are encouraged to see strong momentum in New Jersey."
Among casinos, the Borgata had $2.5 million in sports betting revenue, while the Ocean Resort had nearly $1.3 million and the Golden Nugget had $1.1 million, with others reporting lesser amounts.
Not all bets received by a casino or racetrack are immediately tallied as wins or losses; some involve bets on the outcomes of events yet to be played, like baseball's World Series or football's Super Bowl.