Nevada has had a tough year with the COVID-forced closures of their bread-and-butter casinos, the “slow-to-a-trickle” tourism sector and the overall effects of both on their legal betting industry. But the month of March provided the state with some much-needed optimism, that their retail sector is slowly coming back, and their sports betting culture is on healthy footing once again.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is reporting a respectable March handle and revenues for its state’s sportsbooks thanks mostly to March Madness which was forced into a one-year hiatus in 2020. In fact, March represented Nevada’s third best sports betting handle ever. The Gaming Control Board is also reporting that brick-and-mortar casinos are finally showing signs of life after more than a year of industry decimation.
The March Bounce Back
Nevada sportsbooks were widely expected to see a March spike after February’s predictable slide. The sports betting scene during the month of February was hindered by its 28-day wagering period, one less weekend of sports action and the annual Super Bowl hangover period.
March Madness seems to have been the pill that cured the hangover. The NCAA Basketball Tournament was the catalyst for Nevada’s $641 million legal sports betting handle, which represents a 15.7% increase from February’s $554 million. Last month’s handle was 354.2% higher than that of March 2020’s $141.1 million, during a time the sporting world essentially went dark, and casinos were forced to shutter.
Revenues for the Nevada sports betting industry also followed an optimistic upward trend. The state’s sportsbooks made $39.3 million off March’s handle, up 23.6%, from $31.8 million in February. Year-over-year profits spikes an insane 2604% when COVID issues limited books in the Silver State to $1.5 million in profits.
The What Ifs With Mobile
Nevada regulators continue to resist the temptation of expanding its mobile platform to allow for remote registration. As is stands in Nevada, in-person sign-up procedures are still required for mobile betting apps. Trips to brick-and-mortar facilities in the age of COVID have been few and far between and the state’s overall handle has suffered.
In March, Nevada’s mobile platform was responsible for just $385.1 million or 60.1% of the overall handle. While it is an increase of 21.7% from February’s $316.3 million and 333.1% from March 2020, Nevada’s mobile platform still lags far behind other Heavyweight legal betting states in the US scene.
Outside of Nevada, the rest of the “Top-7 bet-friendly states” hover around the 90% mark in terms of their mobile platforms’ contributions to their overall monthly takes.
It is no shock that basketball betting dominated the overall sports betting handle in Nevada. Regulators don’t separate college and pro basketball in their reports, but we can rest assured that March Madness was a huge part of basketball accounting for $501.5 million, or just over 78% of Nevada’s overall March sports betting handle.
The “other” category came in second with a $69.1 million contribution, hockey provided $58 million to the handle baseball brought in a surprisingly low $9.2 million and football contributed $2.7 million.
Still Maintaining Second
Despite the lack of a modern and robust mobile betting platform, Nevada has been able to maintain its position as the second most bet-friendly state in the nation. New Jersey unsurprisingly still sits in top spot with a $859.6 million March sports betting handle, Nevada is second and Pennsylvania is currently third with $560.3 million in March.
Illinois has yet to report but there is a feeling that their reverting back to in-person requirements for mobile betting could hinder their overall standing, just like in Nevada.
After the nation’s overall handle slipped to just under $4 billion in February, the March surge seen in every jurisdiction across the US industry puts it on track to eclipse the magical $4 billion monthly handle mark yet again.
The state of Nevada has a lot to look forward to, mostly because the light at the end of the long and painful COVID tunnel seems to be in view. With vaccinations efforts in the country seemingly exceeding expectations, the pent-up demand for travel should be a boon for Las Vegas in particular. With increased travel will come increased betting dollars for the state.
While the lack of a remote sign-up procedure for betting apps has adversely affected the state during the coronavirus pandemic, it may not be such a huge factor when tourism kicks back up and casinos are packed once again.
The Silver State looks to have weathered a generational storm and enters the summer full of optimism – well deserved optimism.