Nevada books set state monthly handle record in Sept.

By Dave Tuley  ( senior reporter) 

October 27, 2021 01:27 PM

Nevada sportsbooks took in $786.5 million in sports bets in September. That seems like a big number, but how big?”

“This represents an all-time record [for Nevada], beating the previous record of $659.6 million in October 2020,” Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the state’s Gaming Control Board, emailed VSiN shortly after the monthly gaming figures were released early Wednesday morning.

Lawton added that the handle was up $211.2 million, or 36.7 percent, from September 2020’s handle of $448.4 million (which included NBA and NHL playoff games after their spring shutdowns). September always brings a spike with the start of football season, so another comparison is that handle was up $231.5 million, or 54.1 percent, from August’s handle of $428.1 million.

In addition, Nevada books won $54.2 million (a hold of 6.9 percent) from sports bettors in September, an increase of $21.3 million, or 64.6 percent, from September 2020, and $39.9 million more than the $14.3 million won in August, an increase of 274.8 percent. Lawton said this September’s win was the third-highest all-time for any month in Nevada with the record being $61.8 million in November 2020.

Football obviously led the way as $477.6 million of the state’s sports handle and $36.3 million of the win (hold of 7.6 percent) came from the No. 1 betting sport. In addition, parlay cards (which also mostly involve football) won $4 million (hold of 56.3 percent).  

Having said all that, New Jersey is still the No. 1 legal sports betting market in the country and hit a major milestone in September as the first state ever top $1 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in sports betting handle and topped it with $11 million to spare at $1.011 billion. The previous record was set by New Jersey last December at $996.3 million.

New Jersey also won $82.4 million (for a higher hold percentage of 8.2 percent) of those wagers. Football handle was $400.8 million (hey, we found a figure where Nevada beat Jersey) with a win of just $10.3 million (low hold of 2.6 percent), probably due to promotional bets, rebates, etc.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018 and took away Nevada’s virtual monopoly on legalized sports wagering in this country, New Jersey has led the way thanks to its bigger population base plus even bigger states surrounding it and within driving distance of its borders. In addition, more than 90 percent of wagers in New Jersey are placed on mobile devices, so the added convenience (including being able to sign up online instead of having to go to a brick-and-mortar casino like you do in Nevada) also helps drive handle. For comparison’s sake, while Nevada’s mobile wagers have been increasing, they still only account for just over 60 percent of all wagers.

But as I’ve written several times in these monthly reports, I don’t believe we should see New Jersey surpassing Nevada as the No. 1 sports betting state as a loss for Nevada (in fact, pretty much everyone predicted this even before the Supreme Court decision). That’s because even though there were those that predicted that Nevada’s business would be cannibalized if sports bettors were able to stay home and bet legally, we keep seeing Nevada set these monthly records as business is booming bigger than when there was no legal competition. It just goes to show that there’s always been this demand from the masses for sports betting and that the overturning of PASPA was long overdue.

As John F. Kennedy famously said (though he didn’t invent the phrase from my Google search): “A rising tide lifts all boats” – and I’ll add that the sports betting industry is riding the wave!


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