The inevitable became official Thursday when Nevada was overtaken by New Jersey for the No. 1 spot in total sports betting handle in the post-PASPA era.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board released its April revenue figures, and the $457.8 million wagered in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the state during the month was not enough to keep the Silver State ahead of New Jersey. It marks the first time since PASPA was struck down in May 2018, allowing regulated sports wagering on a state-by-state basis, that a state other than Nevada is atop the leaderboard.
In that span, New Jersey has accepted $15,156,448,906 in bets while Nevada has accepted $14,922,692,979. It is possible Nevada’s handle is higher because the NGCB did not release handle figures for April 2020 and May 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is also unlikely those months would total more than the $233.8 million in difference between the two.
Nevada has consistently ceded ground to New Jersey over the past 16 months — it has not bested the Garden State head-to-head in handle since December 2019 — and the pandemic accelerated the pace as remote registration for mobile wagering has been a key driver of New Jersey’s handle growth. In contrast, Nevada continues to require in-person registration as a means of theoretically aiding its casinos along the Strip.
The April handle is the lowest recorded by the NGCB since the sports schedule returned to normal following the worst of the pandemic and is 28.6% lower than March’s handle of nearly $640.8 million that was the third-largest in state history. April’s figure is also the lowest handle in a month not affected by COVID since nearly $287.8 million was wagered in August 2019.
It is also the first time Nevada has finished behind Pennsylvania in monthly handle unaffected by the pandemic, with the Keystone State reporting $479.4 million in sports betting wagers for April. The Silver State could end up fourth nationally for the month pending the Illinois Gaming Board’s report, which will likely be released at some point in the next two weeks.
With the substantial dip in handle came a falloff in revenue, as the sportsbooks collected $27.2 million for April. That was a 30.8% drop compared to March as the house also had a lower hold of 5.95% versus 6.14% in March. The state received more than $1.8 million in sports betting tax receipts in April and has collected nearly $10.2 million for the year.
Regaining the top spot appears to be a tall task
With Illinois yet to report its April figures, Nevada ranks second among all states in 2021 handle with just under $2.3 billion in wagers accepted. The problem is New Jersey has already outpaced the Silver State by more than $1 billion through the first four months, and that gap swells to nearly $2.75 billion since Nevada’s lead over New Jersey reached its peak of more than $2.5 billion in December 2019.
|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|
(NJ now ahead)
|January 2020-April 2021 Total||$6,582,316,494||$9,326,243,036||$2,743,926,542|
|All-Time Post-PASPA Handle||$14,922,692,979||$15,156,448,906|
Nevada should see a bounce in handle in the coming months as it resumes its status as a top tourist destination, attracting a more steady stream of visitors to its sportsbooks while trying to expand its base of online and mobile bettors.
Growing that online component, however, remains the biggest challenge for Nevada to keep pace with New Jersey. In April, mobile wagering accounted for nearly $297.1 million in handle in Nevada, and the 64.9% of the overall handle it represented was the highest percentage in the nine months since the sports world returned to a full schedule.
But that percentage and dollar amount pale in comparison to New Jersey, which has generated at least 90% of its handle online every month since last August. Additionally, the Garden State’s online handle in terms of dollars has more than doubled what Nevada has generated for six months running, contributing to a chasm of more than $3.8 billion between the two over the last nine months.
|Month||Nevada Mobile Handle||Nevada Percent of Total Handle||New Jersey Mobile Handle||New Jersey Percent of Total Handle||Difference In Mobile Handle|
Breaking down Nevada’s April numbers by sport
Baseball proved to be the best play for the house in April as Nevada operators collected more than $14.1 million in revenue on more than $163.7 million wagered. Basketball was the most popular sport in terms of handle at just over $181 million, but sportsbooks had only a 4.76% hold there compared to 8.62% in baseball, resulting in revenue totaling slightly more than $8.6 million.
The catch-all “other” category, which includes boxing, MMA, and golf for the NGCB, generated more than $4.9 million in revenue from nearly $64.3 million wagered, and hockey bets accounted for $2.1 million in revenue from nearly $45.6 million in handle.
Sportsbooks were still paying out winning football picks in April as bettors took home more than $6 million compared to the $3.5 million wagered. Parlays were not all that popular during April as sportsbooks collected just $8,000 on less than $116,000 in such bets.
Mobile wagers generated nearly $17.9 million in revenue for operators as the 6.02% hold narrowly beat out the overall win rate.
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