There was a mixed bag of good and bad results when the Nevada Gaming Control Board released the January state’s sports betting figures early Friday morning.
Nevada sportsbooks had never taken half a billion dollars in wager in the month of January before, so the record $502.5 million handle was great news. The state’s 192 books also won a total of $20.15 million from bettors, an increase of 36.01 percent from January 2019. The majority of that came from basketball with a win of $12.5 million while the football win was $5.79 million, but that’s to be expected as January has dozens of basketball games every day while the football menu just includes 10 NFL playoff games, the CFB Playoff title game plus the end of the bowl season (the Super Bowl goes on the February ledger).
The bad news came in the fact New Jersey handled its own record of $540 million in sports bets, topping Nevada for the first month since August (not-so-coincidentally, the last full month when football didn’t dominate). New Jersey’s continued growth is aided by 87 percent of its handle coming on mobile devices (and allowing mobile registration compared to Nevada’s in-person requirement). January was the first month that Nevada released its mobile date, with 48.9 percent of its handle coming via mobile and 55.6 percent of its monthly win ($11.2 million of the $20.15 million win).
As you can see from the following chart, New Jersey outhandled Nevada in three of the four months from May through August, but Nevada reclaimed the title during the football-heavy months of August through December.
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*
*Won the monthly title
Back to January’s figures in Nevada, the handle was 1.1 percent higher than the previous record of $496.6 million set last January. Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the GCB, confirmed our earlier comment about the sheer number of basketball games on the betting boards leads to its domination in January, adding that “The last six years, football has only outperformed basketball once in terms of win and twice in volume.”
Lawton also said the books held more on basketball this year (5.6 percent vs. 2.3 percent last January) while they held less than normal on football (2.6 percent vs. 4.2 percent last January).
In addition to releasing the mobile breakdown for the first time, the GCB also separated hockey from the “other” category. For as long as the state has released monthly gaming figures, the sports books were only required to post separate figures for football, basketball and baseball with the rest of the sports (except horse racing) lumped in the other category. Lawton said it was an internal decision after discussions with the sportsbooks operators. It was unsaid, but the obvious reason is that hockey wagering has increased since the Vegas Golden Knights entered the NHL in 2017. For the record, the first monthly figures show that the Nevada sportsbooks won nearly $1.15 million from bettors in January, holding 4.78 percent of the $24 million handle on the sport.
January 2020 Nevada Sports Betting Figures
Category Win/Loss %Change Hold%
Overall   $20,152,000 36.01 4.01
Football $5,787,000 -26.75 2.64
Basketball $12,539,000 113.14 5.57
Baseball -$1,910,000 75.47 -4,106.00
Hockey $1,149,000 N/A 4.78
Sports Parlay Cards $277,000 3,439.71 10.42
Other* $2,310,000 9.27 7.40
Horse Racing $2,727,000 -7.23 16.25
%Change is compared to same month last year
Hold% is percentage the books won/lost from the handle in that category
*Other includes golf, auto racing and all other sports except the big four (football, basketball, baseball, hockey) and horse racing.