Nevada books set annual handle, win records in 2021 despite sluggish December

By Dave Tuley  ( senior reporter) 

January 27, 2022 02:30 PM

Nevada sportsbooks set yearly records for profits and handle in 2021 despite a lackluster month of December, according to figures released Thursday morning by the state’s Gaming Control Board.

Bettors fared better than normal in the last month of the year as the books won just under $16 million from just over $1 billion in handle for a very low hold of 1.58 percent.

However, the annual win was $445.1 million from a total handle of $8.1 billion. Both topped the previous records of $329.1 million and $5.3 billion in 2018. The hold on the year was a more typical 5.78 percent.

The other good news for Nevada’s books was that, after never reaching $1 billion in sports-betting handle in a single month, they topped the milestone in each of the last three months.

Despite all the added competition from states with much bigger population bases, Nevada still ranked No. 2 in handle in December. Here are the top states that have posted their monthly figures so far, according to my VSiN colleague Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22 on Twitter). Note: Illinois, Colorado and Arizona have yet to report. Illinois was No. 3 in November, so it’s expected to supplant Pennsylvania from that spot, while Colorado and Arizona could challenge Michigan for No. 5.


1. New Jersey: $1.23 BILLION

2. Nevada: $1.01 BILLION

3. Pennsylvania: $750.4 mil

4. Michigan: $514.6 mil

5. Indiana: $463 mil

6. Tennessee: $341.8 mil

7. Iowa: $266.5 mil

8. Connecticut: $150 mil

Mobile wagering also continues to be rising in Nevada. In 2020, the percentage of mobile wagers was just 57.1 percent, but with $5.3 billion in mobile wagers in 2021, the percentage rose to 64.6 percent (and was better than 70 percent for the last three months, topping off with 76 percent of all December sports wagers).

The overall sportsbook win was technically $15.96 million (rounded up to $16 million). We would normally note that the majority of that win came from football, but in this case the football win actually exceeded the overall win as books profited $16.9 million Note: the GCB doesn’t separate pro and college football in its figures.

The books also posted a $2.86 million win on basketball (again, pro and college combined) but reported a $1.28 million loss on baseball (accounting “loss” from tickets cashed in December well after the MLB season ended), a $1.9 million loss on parlay cards (mostly football), a $606,000 loss on hockey and a $57,000 loss on “other” (the category that includes all other sports beside the Big Four, most notably NASCAR, golf, tennis, boxing, MMA).

"December saw disappointing results across multiple sporting events including football, basketball and hockey," Michael Lawton, GCB senior economic analyst, told VSiN in an email.  "Several high-profile customers won large wagers across numerous properties as well as the public experiencing wins in 3 of the 4 NFL Sundays. This was in addition to a difficult bowl season in college football for the books."

Horse racing is treated as a separate line item in the monthly report. Nevada racebooks won $2.28 million on the ponies, an increase of 26.23 percent from December 2021, with a typical hold of 16.99 percent thanks to pari-mutuel wagering.

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