With all the talk in New Jersey about its sports betting success over the past few months, another sports wagering outlet that has been around for 45 years is seeing a resurgence.
Last week, harness racing over the one-mile oval at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford — which is also the flagship site of FanDuel Sportsbook — marked the third straight weekend that saw total handle exceed the $7-million mark. That level was reached just three times all of last year, according to a news release Thursday.
One of the reasons for its success: the popularity of the track’s low 15% takeout rates.
The lineup of 15% takeout wagers is spread throughout an individual card including 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, 50-cent Early Pick-4, 20-cent Pick-6, 50-cent Late Pick-4 and to cap the night in the last race, a 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta, the release said.
“Wagering last week was over $7 million, which was up $2.36 million from the same two nights last year,” Jason Settlemoir, the Meadowlands’ chief operating officer and general manager, said in the release. “What we are seeing is that low takeouts and low minimums help to keep the horse player in action longer.
“If the player can stay in action, they are capable of making a score on any number of our wagers that are generating big payoffs. In any successful gambling business, customer satisfaction is the name of the game.”
A wager that has been performing at a high level is the 20-cent Pick-5, the track’s most popular handicapping puzzle in terms of average pool.
The wager is currently seeing $105,977 a night, almost double what the action was a year ago ($56,331), the release said. In the first two months of the new year, the pick-5 average payout has been $2,989. The bet serves as a catalyst for the first race, which saw $367,134 of wagering last Saturday, and has been averaging more than $300,000 a night thus far in 2021.
The Meadowlands’ signature wager, the 50-cent pick-4, gives bettors two chances to make a score every live racing night. The early pick-4 has averaged $94,294 per pool and the late pick-4 has seen an average of $90,586. Last Saturday, the early pick-4 returned $17,959.80 after 20-1 shots served as winning bookends, while the late pick-4 came back $78.55 after two favorites, one at 5-2 and one at 3-1, hit the finish line.
Live racing takes place every Friday and Saturday night at The Meadowlands with post time set at 6 p.m.
“Judging by our 2021 results, where we have seen handle exceed $3 million on five consecutive programs, we can reasonably assume that the customer thinks The Meadowlands is providing an excellent and improved product,” Settlemoir said.
New Jersey's total sports wagering handle was down slightly in January month-over-month and did not reach the $1 billion benchmark, but the state had a nearly 25% increase in revenue to set a national record. It was the third straight month topping $900 million in handle.
The New Jersey sports betting handle for January, both online and retail, was $958.72 million, a decrease of 3.8% from December’s record of $996.3 million. In a year-over-year comparison, January 2021 was an improvement of 77.5% over January 2020's $540.11 million.