NBA, MLB Help Nevada Books to Strong May 2018 Performance

Nevada Sports Betting Nears New Record For Handle In May

NBA sports betting

Nevada sportsbooks halted a two-year trend of declining May handle this year, buoyed by strong numbers in baseball and basketball.

Nevada sports betting generated a win of nearly $20.5 million last month. The total handle for May clocked in at $315.5 million, which falls just short of the $315.8 million record set in 2015.

May typically ushers in the slowest part of the Nevada sports betting calendar. After the NFL ends in February, only March Madness buffers the schedule until college football returns in August. That could change slightly this year with World Cup soccer on the slate.

It’s worth noting that a major fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin scheduled for May 5 was canceled. That event, had it gone off, surely would have created a new handle record in the month by a wide margin.

Comparing this year to the past

Let’s take a closer look at how this May stacks up against the same month in previous years:

  • May 2017: $310.6 million
  • May 2016: $313.4 million
  • May 2015: $315.8 million

Last year also featured a strange anomaly for Nevada sportsbooks when NBA bettors took them for more than $4 million.

NBA helps, doesn’t hurt this year

The expected coronation of the Golden State Warriors produced little drama on the court or at the window in Nevada sports betting. With more than $109 million wagered on basketball in May, the books ended up with a win of $9.3 million. That’s a substantial improvement over the weirdness of last year at the same time.

That does not mean all was normal for Nevada casinos though. Take a look at the parlay category: typically a cash cow for the books, parlays generated just a $61,000 win on nearly $6 million in wagers in May.

Other sports generate a loss

Another odd happening comes from the ‘other’ column that includes hockey, golf and tennis among lesser-wagered sports. April witnessed a huge spike in this category, thanks to enormous interest in the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and a surge in tennis betting.

In May, the books performed poorly here, losing $69,000 on more than $53 million in bets. Still, the loss could have been much harsher for the books when June numbers come out, had the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup. Vegas went off as high as 500-1 at some Nevada sportsbooks, long before the team went on the most successful run in history for an expansion team.

With millions in liability on Golden Knights futures, Nevada operators dodged a major hit when the Washington Capitals won the Cup in five games.

Diamonds are a book’s best friend

To no one’s surprise, baseball accounted for the most handle in May with nearly half of all wagers. Nevada sportsbooks took more than $148 million in baseball bets and won more than $10.8 million on those wagers.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV.