The Nevada Gaming Control Board announced Monday afternoon that total statewide handle for Super Bowl LI was $138.5 million, up from the previous mark of $132.5 million set in last year’s season finale. Sunday’s jaw-dropping game, won by New England 34-28 in overtime, was arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever played, and it certainly led to the most betting activity.
Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board, noted that four years ago, the Super Bowl still hadn’t breached $100 million, settling for a then-record $98.9 million handle. If he were told then that the handle would now be closer to $150 million than $100 million, would he have believed it?
“No,” Lawton said emphatically. “Sports betting has just really taken off. Customers have embraced the technology, and so has the industry. Plus all the (media) attention it gets nationally, it just generates a lot of interest.”
That technology point was definitely key Sunday. Many Nevada sportsbook operators now offer mobile betting, and combined with the rapid expansion of in-game wagering, the latest record perhaps shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.
“Super Bowl betting from 2013 to 2017 has increased by $39.5 million – a 39.9 percent increase in just four years,” Lawton said, adding that this year’s matchup certainly helped, as well. “The Patriots being the Patriots, generating a lot of excitement, and the Falcons being an exciting, high-scoring team too, that generated a lot of interest.
“We measure in volume and interest, and I think Sunday was a very good day, a very successful day.”
Nevada sportsbooks held $10.9 million of that record handle, or 7.9 percent, down from last year’s hold of $13.3 million and 10.1 percent.
The Super Bowl is just a microcosm of the overall sports betting explosion in Nevada. Lawton pointed out that annual overall handle has gone from $2.7 billion in 2010 all the way up to $4.5 billion last year – a quantum leap of 63.2 percent.
The NFL is definitely the biggest driver of those ever-increasing numbers, with its signature game now knocking on the door of $150 million. All it would take is an 8.3 percent increase from Sunday’s game, well below the 20.7 percent jump in 2014 that put Nevada over $100 million for the first time ($119.4 million), and less than the 14.3 percent upswing that produced the 2016 record.
But still, $150 million is a lot of money. So what would it take to get there next year? Cowboys-Patriots.
“That’ll cause it, for sure,” Lawton said. “But I’m a Raiders fan, so let’s get the Raiders and Cowboys in there.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.