Nevada Sports Betting Handle Declines But Finishes Second

Though Nevada retained its second position in the US sports betting market, December saw a relative decline with $588 million in handle, which was around $20 million lower than November’s figures. Besides, the figure was far lower than New Jersey’s sports betting handle for the same month that touched almost the $1 billion mark. Still, Nevada managed to beat Pennsylvania sports betting, which drew roughly $548 million in bets in December.

According to the figures released Thursday by Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), Nevada sportsbooks took $588.5 million in wagers, representing a 3.4% decline from November which saw $609.4 million. Also, the December handle was 11% down from the Silver State’s record total of $660 million wagered in October. However, the handle, which includes both retail and online betting, showed a 3% increase from December 2019’s $571 million.

The Silver State’s sports revenue for the month was $40.6 million, representing a 34.4% decrease from November ($61.8 million). Yet, it was 11.7% higher than what the state’s sportsbook saw during the same period last year ($36.3 million). The state raised $2.8 million in tax for the month.

Handle by Sports

Football was the principal driver of the handle in Nevada during December as it saw $372.1 million, and the 6.95% win rate translated into almost $25.9 million revenues for the sportsbook operators. On average, football handle during 2020 ($1.92 billion) was a bit higher than 2019 ($1.87 billion).

The second most popular sport in December was basketball, which saw $176.6 million of wagers. However, unlike football, basketball saw a year-over-year decline. Particularly, pandemic-led interruptions, including NCAA Tournament, affected basketball, which saw an eventual fall from $1.68 billion handle in 2019 to $1.17 billion in 2020. An even worse decline was reserved for baseball which saw a year-over-year decline (from $1.12 billion to $519 million), as it had a 60-game regular season, 102 games fewer than any normal year not eclipsed by the pandemic.

The Silver State’s December total gaming win was nearly $683.7 million, a nosedive drop from the $1.06 billion in December 2019.

Nevada, A Leader in its Decline

In 2020, Nevada saw nearly $4.3 billion in total sports betting handle, down from $5.3 billion recorded in 2019. However, despite its yearly or even monthly decline, the Silver State is still the second-best in terms of sports betting handle after New Jersey, but a distant second leader that narrowly surpassed Pennsylvania sports betting handle in December. Nevada is a leader in its decline.

The mean reason for this decline is Nevada’s attachment to its traditional style of gambling, and its neglect of the alternative reality: digital gaming. Nevada online sports betting handle totaled $352.2 million, or 59.8%, of the total bets placed in December, which was a slight increase of 2.4% from November’s $344 million. However, rivaling states with no in-person registration requirement witnessed more than 90% of their total bets coming through online sportsbooks in December. For instance, Colorado saw an all-encompassing 98.6% of its wagers placed through mobile apps in December, Pennsylvania 97.6% on mobile, and the New Jersey industry, which leads the nation, drew 92% of the national record-total handle in December through mobile betting.

This reluctance to shift to digital gaming has been further impacted by the global pandemic. Capacity limits in Nevada’s casinos and a steep decline in tourism because of the COVID-19, and with the state’s unexplained rationale of sticking to its in-person registration requirement for sports betting are the obvious reasons. In November 2019, the city had 3.5 million, about 57% more than November 2020, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Through November, year over year, visitors were down almost 55%.

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