LAS VEGAS – As if we needed more proof of the growth and popularity of sports betting with the approach of Super Sunday, the Nevada Gaming Control released its report Wednesday showing that the state’s 191 sports books had a record 2017 in just about every category.
Nevada books took $4.87 billion in sports bets in 2017, setting a record for the eighth straight year, and won a record $248.8 million, breaking the record of $231.8 million set in 2015 (yes, the books had a “down” year in 2016 when they “only” won $219.2 million).
The books also recorded handle records in football wagering (which is NOT broken down into college and pro bets) at $1.7 billion, basketball (again, combining NCAA & NBA) at $1.4 billion, baseball at $1.1 billion and “other sports” at $427.7 million. “Other sports” is a catch-all category as hockey hasn’t been a standalone category, but the arrival of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and their subsequent success has sparked much bigger interest in hockey wagering. The category was also boosted by the monster Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match in August and the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez bout in September.
While more records were set in the “win” category with $87.4 million on basketball, $36.8 million on baseball and $32.3 million on other (a 73% increase over the last non-Golden Knights season and only included three months of action), the win on football was down at $76.9 million (from $91.2 million in 2016) as books held only 4.4% due mostly to a run of favorites in the NFL starting with Week 7. That also led to a non-record win $15.1 million on parlay cards, though that still a 45.8% increase from 2016.
The December figures are almost an after-thought in light of the annual reports, but the state’s books won $34.5 million for their 53rd straight winning month dating back to July 2013. That includes a win of $23 million on football, $11.1 million on basketball and $1.765 million on other/hockey. Now, you might say, “Wait a minute, Mr. Tuley, but that adds up to more than $34.5 million, what gives?”
Well, baseball was a $1.85 million loss for the books in December despite no games to book. As discussed in our November report when talking about how gaming figures can sometimes be misleading (especially in month-to-month comparisons), those losses are from people who waited to cash their winning tickets from World Series games as well as futures, which could also include division & league futures and regular season over/unders.