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Riding the wave of depressing figures of November and December in Vegas due to COVID-19 restrictions, Nevada began January 2021 with great comeback sports wagering handle numbers. Many were concerned how the Silver State would lift itself out of the decline, but the past month’s tally erased any lingering doubts.
January saw Nevada nearly break their single-month handle betting record. Their total handle of $646.5 million represented the second-highest betting month in the state’s history. Only 2% shy of their earlier record of $659.2 million set in October 2020. It is also the eighth-highest monthly handle total for any US state in the post-PASPA era, dating back to May 2018.
Among figures released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, handle increased by nearly 10% from December and reached the $600 threshold for the third time in four months and fourth time overall. Most critical to operators it was an excellent month with an above-average win rate of 8.1%, generating more than $52.4 million, a 29.1% increase from December.
It is difficult and unproportionally challenging to make state vs. state comparisons due to size and rule differences but Nevada became the first state post-PASPA to pass $13 billion total in the handle. That figure will likely be broken shortly by New Jersey.
Nevada remains the only US state currently permitting legalized sports wagering that requires in-person registration for customers to open accounts. Their unique Las Vegas and Reno destination points have kept legislators from omitting the rule. Recently Iowa eliminated their mandate on January 1. Illinois has undergone several suspensions by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as well. Their record online wagering success leads many to believe the onsite registration rule will be terminated permanently soon.
Online wagering has flourished in the past six to nine months due to COVID-19 mandates restricting casino attendance. States initially legislating sports wagering including New Jersey and Pennsylvania that have been restricted have seen their online gaming share zoom from 90% to as high as 97% in recent months.
In January $363.7 million was bet via mobile and online representing Nevada’s second-highest figure. It was a noticeable decline in the percentage of the overall handle In comparison to the previous month. The 56.2% of total handle for mobile wagering is way lower compared to other US states for January. December showed a mark of 59.9%.
Overall, results indicated the potential for Nevada would be greater without the new account registration rule as being discovered in other US states as well.
No surprise that NFL playoff football, some NCAA college football plus NBA and NCAA college basketball combined to take most of the action during January.
Football racked up $25.6 million in total revenue with a pleasing 8.9% profit rate. Not far behind was basketball with $22.2 million in revenue, based on a total handle of $293.1 for the month.
NHL hockey was third but far behind with $23.8 million in handle with the “other” category of sports which include golf, boxing, and mixed martial arts posted at $37.2 million in action. Akin to other US states, parlays accounted for approximately $1.1 million but the win rate for sportsbook operators was a remarkably high 26.6%.
Super Bowl numbers will undoubtedly provide Nevada a boost in February and although handle is unlikely to exceed January, the revenue shares should be impressive.
It continues to be irrelevant to rank states due to size and individual legislative laws (including Nevada’s onsite new customer sign-up mandate). However, Nevada is currently ranked second in total US wagering handle to New Jersey. It is likely to remain that way with a possible dip to third to Pennsylvania in early 2021. New sports wagering states including Illinois and Colorado also could be among top five later this year.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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