Nevada sportsbooks set state record for basketball handle, win in March

By Dave Tuley  ( senior reporter) 

April 28, 2022 06:21 PM

Nevada sportsbooks set all-time records for basketball handle and win in March, according to figures released Thursday morning by the state’s Gaming Control Board.

The books handled $708.6 million on the sport (note: the GBC doesn’t separate college and pro basketball, but it’s obvious that most of it was due to March Madness) and won $47.8 million from bettors.

Michael Lawton, the GCB’s senior economic analyst, told VSiN in that email that “We have been told from operators that traditionally the NCAA Tournament accounts for approximately 70% of March basketball write,” so that would put the college handle around $500 million. Regardless of how you look at it, Nevada’s sports book industry continues to thrive despite increasing legalized competition from coast to coast, especially during big tourism events like March Madness and the Super Bowl.

During the entire month of March and all sports, Nevada sportsbooks handled $863 million, which was an increase of 34.7 percent over March 2021. The total handle ranked third in the nation behind New York ($1.6 billion) and New Jersey ($1.12 billion).

Nevada books $36.9 million overall for the month, down 6.15 percent from last March, mostly due to the books only hold (winning) 4.28 percent of the bets compared to 6.14 last year.

The late, great comedian Norm Macdonald (who I just learned today was a follower of my @ViewFromVegas account) hosted a sports comedy show in 2011 called, appropriately enough, “Sports Show with Norm Macdonald.” He had a running gag called “Wait, What?” and he certainly would have said that if he had seen Nevada sportsbooks won $47.8 million on basketball but only $36.9 million overall.

But there’s a logical explanation. The GCB reported that the books “lost” nearly $17.5 million on football in March, which doesn’t make sense as the USFL hadn’t even started yet, but it’s due to people cashing tickets they were holding from the college and pro football season (and probably most of them returning to Nevada for the first time since then for March Madness).

As for the other sports, Nevada won $3.8 million from bettors in the “other category” that includes all other sports besides the Big Four, $2.98 million on hockey and lost $321,000 on baseball (shortened spring training, plus probably some tickets cashed from last season as well).

While the sportsbooks continue to thrive despite the added competition, Nevada casinos are also rebounding from the pandemic nicely as the state’s casinos combined to have their second-best month ever in March with a total win of $1.355 billion in gambling revenue (just short of the all-time best month of $1.359 billion in July 2021). It was also the 13th consecutive month that Nevada surpassed $1 billion.


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