Nevada sports books' March handle sets all-time record; books win $32.5 million

By Dave Tuley  ( senior reporter) 

April 25, 2019 11:34 AM

LAS VEGAS – Nevada sports books won $32.5 million in March, down 4.79% from March 2018, from a record $596.8 million in wagers, according to figures released early Thursday by the state’s Gaming Control Board.

The record handle comes amidst the expansion of legalized sports wagering in this country. New Jersey set its own record handle at $372.5 million in March, but that didn’t keep bettors from coming to Nevada for March Madness and setting a record here as well.

Nevada’s 197 licensed sports books actually won nearly $35.2 million on basketball (the category includes both NBA & NCAA but in March it’s estimated that 70 to 80 percent of that is due to March Madness). Even though the basketball win looks impressive, it was actually down 14.28 percent from last March.

You’ll also note that the win on basketball was actually more than the overall win for the state by $2.7 million, but it’s offset by a $12.2 million “loss” on football (that’s presumed to be late tickets from last season that people cashed while they were visiting for the college basketball tournament; I mean, I know I didn’t lose a bet in the last four weeks of the Alliance of American Football in March, but I’m sure winnings from me and my followers were just a drop in the bucket of that $12.2 million).

The parlay card category also saw a drop with the books winning only a combined $223,000, a drop of 65.25 percent from last year. The parlay card business isn’t as strong as during football season, so that could be part of the decrease, plus the fact that more bettors are wagering on mobile devices, which isn’t as conducive to filling out parlay cards compared to being in a brick-and-mortar sports book. In addition, some books took a beating on parlays in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 on Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23, when favorites went 16-0 straight up and 11-5 against the spread.

Books won nearly $3.5 million on baseball, an increase of 63.39 percent. That’s mostly due to the MLB season having its earliest start ever compared to last March, which only included exhibition games.

Horse racing profits were down more than 9 percent for the second straight month even though the state’s 83 race books held a typical 16.55 percent. The decrease is due in large part to the cancellation of racing at Santa Anita Park from March 9-28 due to fatalities on the track during training and racing earlier this year. Racing in Southern California is traditionally the core of betting activity at Vegas race books, so while nationwide handle is down 3.49% since the beginning of the year compared to 2018, according to Equibase, it makes sense that the impact would be greater here.


March 2019 Nevada Sports Betting Figures

Category                               Win/Loss         %Change           Hold%

Overall                           $32,523,000             -4.79                 5.45

Football                        -$12,202,000                  10.31           -864.95

Basketball                     $35,178,000             -14.28                  7.10

Baseball                          $3,485,000             63.39                 11.05

Sports Parlay Cards       $223,000           -65.25               21.23

Other*                              $5,839,000            314.85                 8.64

Horse Racing                 $3,735,000                  -9.14                 16.55

%Change is compared to same month last year

Hold% is percentage the books won/lost from the handle in that category

*Other includes hockey, golf, auto racing and all other sports except for horse racing.



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