Since New Jersey began taking sports bets in mid-June, over $336 million has been wagered on spots in New Jersey.
Laurence Berner lives in Philadelphia but works in a Trenton rail yard for Amtrak. He places his bets during his morning rest break.
Pennsylvania will begin allowing sports bets in a few weeks, but for now, New Jersey is the only option for the 31-year-old Berner, who makes $5 bets on eight-team parlay cards that pay off hundreds of dollars – providing he picks all eight games correctly. Two weeks ago he won $895 on one such bet.
“It’ll definitely be easier when it comes to Pennsylvania, but for now, I’m at work in New Jersey, so I can do it there,” he said.
For fellow Pennsylvania resident Anthony Tonzelli, sports betting is his job. The 44-year-old professional gambler from Bensalem crosses the Ben Franklin or Burlington-Bristol bridges over the Delaware River into New Jersey five days a week to make sports bets – lots of them. He has made $380,000 worth of sports bets since August, and is down about $3,000 since then.
“This is just like going to a job for me,” he said. “Driving over the bridge and paying a toll really doesn’t matter when you’re putting $300 on a game,” said Tonzelli, who estimates he bets $5,000 a week on sports.
Sometimes he’ll sit at a bar or restaurant and watch how his picks did; other times he’ll continue east to Atlantic City and play poker there. And when sports betting starts in Pennsylvania, Tonzelli still envisions himself crossing into New Jersey whenever the odds on a particular game are better.