Nevada sports books win $10.78 million from lower-than-expected Super Bowl handle; New Jersey loses $4.5 million

Dave Tuley senior reporter


LAS VEGAS – Nevada sports books won $10.78 million from bettors on Super Bowl LIII, but the bigger news is that handle dropped nearly 8 percent from last year’s record of $158.58 million to only $145.9 million wagered on the New England Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

The handle, though a disappointment, is still the second-highest in Nevada’s history behind last year.

We talked with several sports book directors leading up to the big game and – despite this being the first year without Nevada having a virtual monopoly on legalized sports betting in this country – all predicted a record handle for the state with projections between a 5 & 10 percent increase. Instead, the overall handle (which includes future-book wagers throughout the year in addition to all the bets on the actual game) came up $12.6 million short.

In addition to losing some handle to other states, another reason for the shortfall (given by Vinny Magliulo on VSiN’s “My Guys in the Desert Show” with Brent Musburger) is that the in-game wagering wasn’t as robust as expected with the lack of scoring as Super Bowl LIII had a scoreless first quarter, the Patriots led 3-0 at halftime and it was tied again at 3-3 after the third quarter before the Patriots pulled away.

The overall profit of $10.78 million (holding 7.4 percent of all bets, which is more in line with historical expectations) came close to the sports books’ win of two years ago when they won $10.9 million in the Patriots 34-28 OT win over the Atlanta Falcons. Last year, the books only won $1.17 million (holding a very low 0.7 percent) in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 41-33 upset of the Patriots.

If you notice the repeated use of “Patriots,” that’s another factor that some people are pointing to that the drop in handle could be partly attributed to “Patriots’ fatigue” in the fact they’ve been to the title game three straight years and four of the last five. A lot of people believe the Chiefs would have made been a welcome change for a lot of bettors, especially those who only bet once a year on Super Sunday.

The performance of one bettor – the so-called Bettor X – apparently had a huge impact on Nevada sports books’ bottom line. As has been widely reportedly including here at VSiN, he reportedly lost at least $3.8 in money-line wagers on the Rams on Sunday after winning a reported $11 million on the Eagles last year. That $14.8 million swing dwarfs the $9.61 million increase in Nevada’s win over last year and shows that the sports books didn’t do as well against the rest of the bettors overall.

As alluded to before, many people are saying that the legalization of sports betting in other states has cannibalized on Nevada’s handle and – while that was probably bound to be true to some extent – it’s interesting to note that New Jersey (the biggest market among the seven states to add sports betting since the Supreme Court ruling in May) handled just $34.89 million for its first legal Super Bowl, well below projections of around $100 million (admittedly my personal prediction for VSiN, but also the state’s own projection), according to figures released Monday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

New Jersey fared much worse vs. bettors, losing a reported $4.5 million. Part of that is probably due to the proximity to the New England fan base, but New Jersey (and the other states that launched their sports betting operations even later) also didn’t have the luxury of having as much time to take future-book bets before the season like Nevada.

Combining Nevada’s $145.9 million in handle with New Jersey’s $34.89 million gives us at least a record of $180.8 million bet legally on the Super Bowl. The other states (Delaware, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Rhode Island and New Mexico) have yet to release their betting figures.


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