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More Evidence of a US Sports Betting Bounceback


More evidence surfaced on Tuesday that supports the notion of pent-up demand and a healthy sports betting menu allowing the gaming industry to return near pre-COVID levels. The American Gaming Association (AGA) reported its largest-ever monthly handle during the month of August and the second biggest gross gaming revenue number since the Supreme Court decision to overturn the blanket ban on sports betting in 2018.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) resuming their seasons and the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) continuation contributed to the sky-high numbers that came as a relief to not only the sports betting industry itself but also the state and local coffers that have become reliant on the funds flowing in from wagering in their states. Analysts are eagerly awaiting September numbers that should in theory be even higher with the return of the NFL to betting menus.

Deep Dive Into the Figures

Americans wagered $2.1 billion in August 2020, which ranks as the highest ever total for the nation – a total that was missing Illinois’s $136.9 million that was released after the AGA finished their report. The high watermark is the clearest indication yet that the sports betting industry seems to be rounding the COVID-corner and is ready to put the pandemic related issues in the rear-view mirror.

Sportsbooks were able to extrapolate $119.4 million in revenue from the $2.1 million handle, which ranks second to only the January, 2020 total of $138 million.

Year Over Year

Sports betting in the US has seen a dramatic year-over-year rise despite months of casinos being shuttered and major sports in hibernation. The $119.4 million generated by sportsbooks in August across the country itself represented a 90.4% year-on-year rise.

The $2.1 billion handle was an impressive 174.8% higher than that of August, 2019. National sports betting revenue was up 32% from last year at $517.7 million, while online gaming GGR rose 203% to $923.1 million. Of course, the sheer number of states participating in legal sports betting has a lot to do with the year-over-year rise but a look at states that had their own platform at this time last year shows that they have been on a serious uptick too.

About Those Individual States

To nobody’s surprise, New Jersey led the way with a single-state monthly record $668 million handle, Nevada, the previous king of the betting states was second, raking in $475 million, Pennsylvania was third with $365 million, Indiana came in fourth with a $169 million handle, relative newcomer Illinois was fifth with a $123.5 million handle and Colorado produced a $128.6 million handle.

Some new Heavyweight states are ready to join the fray including Michigan, which is expected to climb into that elite category almost immediately.

Mobile Continues to Be the Bread Winner

Another unsurprising stat coming out to the AGA report is how much of the record handle that mobile betting was responsible for. The AGA’s figure of 80% for the country is impressive indeed but even more eye-opening considering the fact that the state of New York doesn’t currently have a mobile sports betting platform and the country’s second most bet-friendly state, Nevada, reported just 65% of their August handle coming from internet betting.

That said, New Jersey reported over 90% of their record August handle coming from apps and Pennsylvania and Indiana were both in the high-80’s with regard to the percentage of mobile sports betting.

Online gaming Gross Gaming Revenue for August increased by 224% from 2019, up to $145.3m

Brick-and-Mortar Struggles

COVID-19 continues to deal a body-blow to the retail sports betting industry. Casinos around the country are still being limited to 25% capacity and tourism with which those facilities are dependent, has slowed dramatically the last seven months. The Strip in Las Vegas is a prime example.

It’s true that numbers in the retail sector are on the rise but that is unsurprising considering the COVID-hole it is climbing out of. August’s gross gaming revenue came in at $3 billion which is 19.8% lower than last year at this time and year-to-date gross gaming revenues have taken a $17.54 billion hit (39.4%).