Nevada sportsbooks have strong December, but trail New Jersey for month and all of 2020

By Dave Tuley  ( senior reporter) 

January 28, 2021 01:51 PM

Nevada sportsbooks again received a mix of good and bad news when the state’s Gaming Control Board released the figures for December and the overall figures for 2020 as business continues to boom, but the state fell further behind New Jersey in the race for national dominance.

The state’s books handled $588.4 million from bettors in the month of December, an increase of 3% from December 2019, and they won $40.6 million, an increase of 11.7%, for a hold of 6.9% compared to 6.36% last December.

“The total drop for December is an all-time record for the month,” Michael Lawton, GCB senior research analyst, wrote in an email.

Football dominated the action last month (the NBA regular season started late and the NHL season hadn’t started yet) with $371.1 million of the handle and $25.9 million of the win.

As expected, the figures were down for 2020 as a whole due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the major sports for several months. Brick-and-mortar casinos were also shuttered from mid-March through early June, though that helped spur more wagering to mobile apps. Nevada sportsbooks handled $4.3 billion for the year, a decrease of 18.4% from 2019, while the overall win was $262.8 million, down 20.2% (note: despite the overall downturn, football set records with an annual handle of $1.9 billion, up 2.7%, and win of $127.7 million, up 4.3%). Mobile wagering accounted for 57.1% of the wagers, though that hit 60% in December.

Those numbers pale in comparison to New Jersey, which has taken over as the top state for sports betting due to its much broader population base. New Jersey, which has only been in the legal sports betting industry since 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban, handled an all-time record (for any month) $996.2 million in December, with $929.3 million being bet via mobile apps for a whopping 93%. The Garden State handled $6 billion overall in 2020 to break Nevada’s all-time annual record of $5.3 billion set in 2019 and Jersey's overall win was nearly 50% higher at another all-time record of $393.2 million .

Nevada still ranked No. 2 in the nation in 2020 sports betting handle. Here’s the Top 5 (though note that Illinois hasn’t released its complete 2020 figures yet and it’s projected to be around $1.5 billion to push past Colorado at No. 5):

1. $6.0 billion, New Jersey

2. $4.3 billion, Nevada

3. $3.5 billion, Pennsylvania

4. $1.8 billion, Indiana

5. $1.2 billion, Colorado



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