Vegas Baby! March Madness Breaks Records
Legal Sports Report

What, Vegas Worry? First March Madness After PASPA Breaks Nevada Sports Betting Records

Nevada sports betting

Worry not for the future of Nevada sports betting, if revenue figures from March Madness are any indication.

Nevada set a new record for monthly handle at nearly $600 million wagered last month as revenue topped $32.5 million. Hold nearly pegged historical markers at 5.4 percent.

The great majority of those wagers came from basketball during March Madness — an astounding $495 million in handle.

Books won more than $32.5 million on basketball in March, a hold of 7.1%. Both totals destroy previous records for the amount wagered in one month in the Silver State.

For anyone concerned about the post-PASPA effect on the nation’s oldest legal sports betting market, this is the clearest indication to date that Nevada sports betting can compete and thrive.

March Madness to remember in NV sports betting

The Nevada Gaming Control Board does not separate March Madness handle from the rest of basketball wagering. It is safe to infer, though, that NCAA basketball drove the record amount put up by bettors in Nevada.

Nevada sportsbooks already plan for the first four days of March Madness as the largest betting event of the year. Nearly $500 million in bets raises those expectations even higher than before.

A year ago, basketball handle in March clocked in at $437 million. Five years ago, March basketball handle sat at just more than $324 million.

Last year, March Madness betting generated what then stood as a new record with $522 million in handle. In March 2017, overall handle settled at $475 million for Nevada sports betting.

The dramatic upward trend solidifies the status of Las Vegas as the country’s top destination for March Madness betting.

Competition does not sink NV sports betting

Nevada sports betting faced its toughest competition yet for sports betting dollars with seven other states offering legal wagering. Those states performed well but it appears the rising tide of legal sports betting lifted all boats.

NJ sports betting blew away tempered expectations in its first-ever March Madness. The Garden State generated $106 million in handle and held $10 million on March Madness, in a month that saw more than $370 million wagered. That covers a small part of April as well, accounting for the Final Four.

More than 80% of wagers came via NJ mobile sports betting apps. While Nevada does not break out mobile vs. retail wagers, it is believed anywhere from 50% to 70% of NV sports betting happens via mobile in a given month.

Football losses temper overall picture

As usual, Super Bowl betting futures came home to roost in March. They always drag down the March revenue report and this year proved no different.

The New England Patriots victory over the Los Angeles Rams did not hurt Nevada sportsbooks like it did those in New Jersey. Futures still took their toll though, leading to more than $12.2 million in losses.

Last year, losses narrowed to $11 million on football betting in March, compared to $13 million in March 2016 and 2017.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He 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. He can be reached at [email protected]
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