Monthly figures released Monday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board show casinos took nearly $522 million in March sports wagers. That figure represents a major jump from $475 million in handle last March, which also set a record at the time.
It was not a record for total handle, but it’s the first time that the total amount wagered surpassed half a billion in a month in which there was no NFL or college football wagering. The fall months routinely eclipse that figure.
March Madness drives the action for sportsbooks
As usual, basketball fueled the March numbers in Nevada. Handle reached a new historical high for the month at about $437 million. The books took in more than $429 million in the same month last year.
The board’s accounting does not break out college and pro basketball separately, but March Madness clearly is the impetus. Las Vegas casino owners tout the first weekend of the tournament as their biggest sports event of the year. Five years ago, March basketball handle sat at more than $324 million — 35 percent less than this year.
While the books enjoyed a sizable basketball win north of $38 million, they fell short of the $41.3 million held last March.
Football brings down the overall win for casinos
The overall hold for Nevada sportsbooks came in at about $34.2 million. That’s roughly $2.8 million ahead of last March.
Football futures tickets come home to roost in March and books lost more than $11 million, much of it on the Philadelphia Eagles. They still cut their football loss from more than $13 million in March both of the past two years.
Baseball’s early start helps the March total as well
About $16.2 million came in on baseball in March. That’s thanks largely to the Major League Baseball season opening March 29, putting three days of regular-season action in the month. Last year, baseball drove around $4.9 million in handle for March.
“Other” sports — including hockey — generated nearly $53 million in March revenue for the books. That figure checked in at $36.6 million last year.
It’s perhaps an indication of the local popularity of the impressive Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural season. The Knights are currently in the Western Conference semifinals.