The shutdown of casinos due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to Nevada sportsbooks winning only $1.45 million from bettors in March, according to figures released Wednesday morning by the state’s Gaming Control Board.
March is traditionally one of the biggest sports betting months of the year, highlighted by the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (aka March Madness), but the sportsbooks missed out on that as well as the vast majority of the sports betting menu being canceled. In March 2019, Nevada sportsbooks won a record $32.5 million, so this March’s win was down 95.53 percent.
“Volume [overall handle] was just $141.2 million compared to a record $596.8 million last March,” said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the GCB. “That was the all-time monthly handle record until the books took $614 million in bets in November.”
The win on basketball this March was actually $5.88 million (down 83.89 percent from March 2019), but on a pretty good pace until it was announced March 11 that Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz had tested positive for COVID-19 and led to the postponing of all major sports leagues. The big loss in the accounting figures for the sportsbooks was the $5.33 million loss on football, though that was mostly due to people cashing in their tickets from last season. The books won only $25,000 on baseball (down 98.98 percent from last March) as spring training was cut short as well as the start of the regular season being postponed. The books won $545,000 on hockey, though there is no year-to-year comparison since the GCB only started separating hockey betting for the first time in January. The “other” category, which includes all sports except for the Big Four, brought in a win of $382,000 (down 93.43 percent from last March).
Even though betting on horse racing has continued in other states (along with interstate wagering), Nevada’s racebooks haven’t benefitted as all the mobile racing apps have been shut down and led to the books only winning $1.31 million (down 64.87 percent from last March).
Nevada’s sports betting industry, which relies more on visitors to its brick-and-mortar casinos, was hit harder than New Jersey. The Garden State handled $187.9 million in sports bets in March, topping Nevada for the third straight month, and was only down 51.2 percent from its handle of $372.4 million last March.
Nevada vs. New Jersey
Monthly sports betting handle
Month Nevada New Jersey
May $317 million $318 million*
June $322 million* $317 million
July $235 million $251 million*
August $287 million $293 million*
September $546 million* $445 million
October $543 million* $487 million
November $614 million* $562 million
December $571 million* $557 million
January $502 million $540 million*
February $491 million $494 million*
March $141 million $187 million*
*Won the monthly title
Roughly 88 percent of New Jersey’s sports betting handle comes from mobile devices compared to around 63 percent in Nevada. The only Nevada books to keep their mobile apps running during the shutdown have been Circa Sports, Caesars Palace, MGM and the William Hill network. The Westgate SuperBook is planning to relaunch its app on May 7.
March 2020 Nevada Sports Betting Figures
Category Win/Loss %Change Hold%
Overall $1,454,000 -95.53 1.03
Football -$5,334,000 -57.48 -304.61
Basketball $5,884,000 -83.89 5.62
Baseball $25,000 -98.98 1.23
Hockey $545,000 N/A 4.81
Sports Parlay Cards -$47,000 -116.85 -63.26
Other* $382,000 -93.43 4.81
Horse Racing $1,311,000 -64.87 16.34
%Change is compared to same month last year
Hold% is percentage the books won/lost from the handle in that category
*Other includes all other sports except the Big Four and horse racing