Nevada Sportsbooks Take Historic Beating From Public In December

Bettors posted a rare win in parlay wagering as part of a strong month
Nevada December 2021 Revenue Report

Sportsbooks across Nevada in December absorbed their worst beating of any post-PASPA month not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, registering just a 1.58% hold while reaching $1 billion in handle for the third straight month.

The previous lowest monthly win rate for sports betting recorded in the Silver State outside the pandemic was 1.66% in July 2018, the second full month of wagering in the post-PASPA era. In March of 2020, Nevada sportsbooks had a 1.03% hold as the sports world was grinding to a halt, and the only negative win rate came in June 2020 at -0.62% as sports were slowly coming back on line.

Overall, sportsbooks registered just shy of $16 million in December revenue, the lowest total unaffected by the pandemic since collecting just $10.5 million in July 2019. The handle that month was $235.7 million, less than one-quarter December’s $1.01 billion. The latter figure is also the seventh-highest handle nationally in the post-PASPA era.

While handle dropped only 6.9% versus November, revenue plummeted 77.8% as the win rate plunged more than five percentage points. In comparing numbers to December 2020, handle was 77.6% higher while revenue was 60.7% lower, with the win rate also more than five percentage points lower than the December 2021 hold.

Taking the pandemic into account, the year-over-year numbers for Nevada sportsbooks were positive. Annual handle climbed 90.1% to more than $8.1 billion for 2021 as Nevada joined New Jersey as the only states to surpass $20 billion in post-PASPA handle. Revenue surged 71.1% to $445.1 million for the year, which was also 35.3% higher than the $329 million generated in 2019.

The statewide win rate of 5.5% for 2021 was six-tenths of a percentage point lower compared to 2020 and nearly three-quarters of a percentage point lower versus 2019. The $30 million in tax receipts was a yearly high in the post-PASPA era, representing more than one-third of the $82.9 million collected since June 2018.

Bettors post the rarest of wins — at the parlay game

Operators posted $16.9 million in revenue from football wagering, though they had just a 3.6% hold on the $477.1 million wagered. Bettors clawed back money in multiple categories, however, showing stunning savvy in parlay wagering in December. The house paid out nearly $7.5 million in winnings on slightly less than $5.6 million wagered for a staggering -34.1% win rate.

It was just the second time the house lost on parlay wagering outside the pandemic. The books lost $15,000 on more than $2.7 million wagered in January 2019. But that was not the only area in which bettors walked away with fatter pockets. They eked out a small win on hockey wagers, collecting $606,000 more than the $66.6 million wagered, and also profited by $57,000 on the $57 million bet in the catch-all “other” category.

Books were also paying out winning baseball tickets while taking few bets on futures. They paid out nearly $1.3 million while accepting less than $10,000 in bets as a potential MLB lockout looms.

Operators also saw a strong challenge from the public in basketball wagering and posted just a 0.7% hold on $408.7 million wagered, to collect nearly $2.9 million.

The NFL’s full embrace of legalized wagering helped fuel a 41.9% year-over-year rise in overall football betting handle to more than $2.7 billion in 2021, while revenue climbed 19.5% to $153.8 million as the win rate tumbled more than one full percentage point.

Baseball wagering more than tripled, which was to be expected after a COVID-shortened season in 2020, but the over $1.4 billion bet was also 27.9% higher than the $1.1 billion from 2019. Basketball handle more than doubled from 2020, reaching nearly $2.7 billion, while hockey handle jumped from $148 million in 2020 to $446 million for 2021.

The mobile phenomenon continues

In the two full years the NGCB has broken out mobile figures, the win rate has failed to meet the industry standard of 7% in any single month. That continued in December as the pain was not restricted to the retail side — online operators finished just $2.6 million ahead on $765 million wagered in December, resulting in a 0.3% hold.

The overall mobile hold in 2021 was 3.7%, or more than one full percentage point lower than 2020. Mobile operator revenue totaled $194.3 million, which accounted for 43.6% of all revenue in 2021. That was a slight decline from the 44.1% in the first year of reported figures in 2020.

Nearly $5.3 billion, or 64.6%, of Nevada’s handle came from online and mobile wagering compared to the 56.5% in 2020. This is not a like-for-like comparison, however, as the state agency did not publicly disclose figures for April and May of 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

Photo: Shutterstock


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