Buoyed with a strong basketball handle from the NCAA tournament, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported a handle of nearly $640.8 million for March, the state’s third-highest monthly total in the post-PASPA era.
Only October 2020 ($659.2 million) and January 2021 ($646.7 mm) saw higher handles in the Silver State, and it was the fifth time overall handle cleared $600 million for any month. March’s handle was a 15.7% increase month over month compared to the $553.8 million wagered in February — which usually is a softer month due to fewer days of wagering and the Super Bowl standing as the NFL’s lone game.
Operators generated more than $39.3 million in revenue in March, a 23.5% increase from February, as they reported a 6.14% hold. Nevada sportsbooks generated nearly $123.6 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2021, 14.6% less than the fourth quarter of 2020 ($144.8 million) despite a similar handle that exceeded $1.8 billion for both three-month periods.
The win rate for the first three months of 2021 was 6.71% compared to 7.8% for the final three months of 2020.
Football payouts eat into operator revenue
Sportsbooks in Nevada were still paying out a sizable portion of winning bets from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in March, with bettors netting more than $8.4 million from football wagers. The lack of futures action resulted in a skewed win rate of -308.67%, as barely more than $2.7 million in wagers were placed.
Basketball betting, however, is where operators were able to recoup those losses and then some. Overall, they generated nearly $41.8 million in revenue — more than double February’s total of $19.2 million — as operators accepted more than $501 million worth of wagers on hoops.
The catch-all “other” category, which includes boxing, MMA, golf, tennis, and more was the second-highest revenue generator, with more than $3.8 million off close to $69.1 million wagered. Hockey was the only other sport that created a seven-figure windfall for operators, who collected nearly $1.7 million off $58 million bet.
As is usually the case, operators had a high win rate for parlay bets at 25.88%, but less than $500,000 worth of those wagers were made in March.
A slight uptick in mobile betting
For just the second time since the sports schedule began operating at near-capacity following the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile betting accounted for more than 60% of the total handle.
The $385.1 million worth of online wagers was the most reported in any month since the NGCB started providing that breakout in January 2020, and the nearly $3.5 billion in mobile handle generated in the last 15 months accounts for slightly less than 57% of the overall handle.
Operators collected almost $21.5 million in revenue through mobile wagering in March, which was 54.6% of the overall total.
Is it the last month atop the post-PASPA handle chart?
Even with a historically strong showing for March, Nevada’s lead over New Jersey for the highest overall sports betting handle since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA in May 2018 shrunk to $56.4 million, as the Garden State had $218.8 million more in handle for March.
The Silver State has not outperformed New Jersey head-to-head for handle since December 2019, a 15-month span during which Nevada’s $6.1 billion in handle has been overshadowed by New Jersey’s near-$8.6 billion as shown in the chart below.
Most notable was the $1 billion in difference from November through January as the Garden State flirted with a $1 billion monthly handle.
|Time Frame||Nevada Handle||New Jersey Handle||Monthly Difference||Nevada Lead Over New Jersey|
|As of Dec. 31, 2019||$8,340,376,485||$5,830,205,870||N/A||$2,510,170,615|
|January 2020-March 2021 Total||$6,124,518,175||$8,578,256,514||$2,453,738,339|
|All-Time Post-PASPA Handle||$14,464,894,660||$14,408,462,384|
Nevada requiring in-person registration to obtain mobile access compared to New Jersey’s remote registration has played a part in fueling that gap, though it is also unknown how much handle the state generated last April and May when the NGCB did not report any sports betting figures.
Additionally, New Jersey benefits from bettors making the short trip across the Hudson River from New York City to place wagers, while Las Vegas — a destination city for travel — is only just recently bouncing back from the pandemic and various mitigation measures associated with it.
Given the monthly gap between the states in handle has been at least $143 million each of the last six months, it seems inevitable that there will be a flip at the No. 1 spot when it comes to post-PASPA handle after both states report their respective April totals.
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