A late start to the 2016 NFL season that put fewer games on the schedule in the month of September could be responsible for a year-over-year decrease in Nevada sports betting handle for the month.
Nevada sportsbooks won $41 million on a total sports betting handle of $429.6 million during September, the first month of professional and collegiate football, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board‘s monthly revenue report.
The monthly handle represents a 6.2 percent year-over-year decrease, although the win percentage marks a 15.2 percent YoY increase.
It was the 38th consecutive month that Nevada sportsbooks have not lost money, dating back to July of 2013.
NFL figures dip slightly
Just under $37 million of September’s $40 million win figure came from professional and collegiate football betting. The NGCB’s reporting does not differentiate between college and professional bets across a sport, but instead lumps all bets at every level of one sport together.
The football win figure marked a 12 percent win on a football-only handle of $309.2 million, not including parlays and teasers. It also represented an 18 percent YoY increase on winnings from September 2015.
Because it marks the beginning of football season, and because football is by far the greatest handle-driver of the professional sports, September is often one of the Nevada sportsbooks’ most scrutinized months.
As NFL TV ratings start to slide, it remains to be seen whether betting handles slide along with it. College football betting appears to be as popular as ever, but still not close to approaching NFL handles.
A recent Nielsen Sports study commissioned by the American Gaming Association argues that the legalization of sports betting would increase NFL viewership.
Adults who bet on the NFL, it found, watched 19 more games in the 2015 regular season than adults who didn’t bet at all. The study concludes that if sports betting were legalized, the number of NFL regular season viewers who bet on sports would increase nearly 50 percent.
Baseball figures slip ahead of postseason
Win percentage and handles dropped YoY for Major League Baseball during the league’s run-up to the October postseason.
Books took in $105.7 million in monthly baseball handle, a 10.9 percent decrease from the same month one year ago.
Perhaps more intriguing, though, was books’ tiny win percentage on baseball. After posting large wins in MLB over the summer months, Nevada books kept just $497,000 on baseball in September, less than a .5 percent win percentage.
October baseball betting handles in Nevada have recently held in the $40-$60 million range. A postseason defined by particularly intense fan engagement—fueled by the Chicago Cubs’ historic run to the World Series — could drive larger October baseball numbers than usual.
October, November crucial months for sportsbooks
The rubber should really hit the road for sportsbooks starting in the next two months.
October will not only feature action on five full college and NFL football weekends, but also the beginning of the NBA and NHL seasons, as well as the entirety of postseason baseball. The combined action could put this October in a position to surpass the all-time largest October handle of $505 million, set last year.
November will feature a full month of NBA and NHL games to add to football’s numbers, plus the opening half-month of the college basketball season. November has produced Nevada’s largest monthly sports pool handle (between $447 million and $557 million) for each of the past four years.
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