Nevada Sports Betting Handle Down In October, But Don’t Sound The Alarm

Sportsbooks generated $528m in bets for Nevada last month, down year-over-year, while handle was up big month-over-month in New Jersey.
Nevada Sports Revenue Dip Not Alarming Yet
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October was a $29.5-million month for sportsbooks across the state of Nevada, but revenue was down a pesky 6% in a year-over-year comparison, per Nevada Gaming Control Board data.

The books retained a very standard 5.6% of the handle in the form of winnings (that’s exactly what it has averaged over the past year), meaning that about $528.5 million was bet in the Silver State last month. That was down 6.4% compared to the $564.7 million wagered in October 2017.

Nevada was the only single-game sports wagering state in October 2017. Last month, there were six states with legal sports wagering (two additional states–Pennsylvania and Rhode Island–have launched this month). Fortunately for Nevada, all the states, with the exception of New Mexico, are far east of Las Vegas.

Here’s a look at the breakdown on the $29.5 million:

  • Football: $11.3 million, down 28.2% y/y
  • Baseball: $8.2 million, up 30.8% y/y
  • Basketball: $3.7 million, down 24.8% y/y
  • Parlays: $2.6 million, down 45.2% y/y
  • Other: $3.6 million, down 907.1% y/y

New Jersey comparison

The only state comparable to Nevada right now is the Garden State, which kicked off sports betting this summer. New Jersey’s sports betting market was $11.6 million in revenue and $260.7 million in handle last month. New Jersey suffered from a significantly below-average hold of 4.4%.

The good news is that the handle was up a whopping 41.7% month-over-month, but the bad news is that the revenue was basically halved compared to September.

Nevada and New Jersey isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison because the latter’s market can’t be put in a year-over-year context. That, and Nevada doesn’t yet allow for remote mobile sports betting app registration, while New Jersey does. Regardless, one can get a rough picture of the explosive growth of New Jersey’s industry while Nevada clearly has a mature market.

October was lackluster for Nevada, but September was a record-setting month for the books there in terms of both revenue ($56.3 million) and handle ($571 million). It’s too early to say Nevada’s market has plateaued in the face of more and more states launching.

The results of March Madness in 2019 might be a great indicator, as Las Vegas historically has drawn hordes of gambling tourists for the roughly month-long bonanza of college hoops.

Previous Octobers in Nevada

It’s worth stressing that Nevada’s sports betting market has been at record levels in recent years, so last month’s dip in handle and revenue shouldn’t be a concern yet. A look back at winnings in Octobers of previous years also shows that a $30-million October is not atypical for the industry. Though, it was the worst October in terms of winnings since 2014.

Here’s a look at the previous Octobers from this decade in terms of revenue:

  • 2018:  $29.5 million, down 6% y/y
  • 2017: $31.4 million, down 25.6% y/y
  • 2016: $42.3 million, up 25.9% y/y
  • 2015: $33.6 million, up 21.7% y/y
  • 2014: $27.5 million, down 9% y/y
  • 2013: $30.3 million, up 351.6% y/y
  • 2012: $6.7 million, down 79.8% y/y
  • 2011: $33.2 million, down 6.7% y/y
  • 2010: $35.6 million, up 113.1% y/y

Past 12 months

Over the 12 months prior to Nov. 1, 2018, Nevada’s sports betting industry generated $273.7 million in revenue, up 12.8% compared to the same period a year prior.

About $4.88 billion was bet during the timeframe, up from $4.80 billion bet over the 12 months prior to Nov. 1, 2017. That translates to a roughy 1.6% handle increase year-over-year.

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