By Weston Blasi, MarketWatch
With most sports leagues on hiatus and casinos across the country closed because of the coronavirus, a lot of people have been placing bets online from home, leading to several records in online gambling numbers in 2020.
Among the states that have seen huge jumps in online poker numbers are New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
New Jersey took in a record $79.9 million from online poker and casino games in April — a 118% increase from the $36.6 million in revenue the state had in April 2019, according to the state .
Pennsylvania also had a record-breaking April with online poker and casino games, as the state has doubled its revenue from online games since February, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board .
The four most popular online games are slots, blackjack, craps and roulette, according to PlayUSA.
Google searches for online poker reached a five-year peak during the coronavirus pandemic, with the increase beginning in mid-March — the week when most sports leagues shut down.
While the boom in online poker has helped the struggling sportsbooks during the pandemic, it has not made up for all the losses. The revenue from a typical month of sports betting when sports were still operating dwarfs any extra revenue sportsbooks have seen from online poker.
For example, Pennsylvania’s total sports betting handle betting was $46 million in April 2020 compared with $348.4 million in January 2020. That handle is made up largely from international sports like Korean baseball, NASCAR and betting on popular video games and virtual competitions like “League of Legends.”
“There will likely be long-term implications from this surge in online gambling interest. A behavioral shift that makes online gambling permanently more popular is likely to continue even after casinos reopen,” Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania, said in an email to MarketWatch. “But the reality is that despite the gains made at online casinos, the closing of land-based casinos left a revenue hole that can’t be made up.”