Nevada sports bettors wagered almost $5 billion in 2017, once again breaking betting records

Jan 30, 2018 |
Nevada sports bettors wagered almost $5 billion in 2017, once again breaking betting records
Sportsbooks across Nevada held about $248.8 million on that handle, for a win percentage of 5.11, up from 2016’s hold of $219.2 million, which represented a win percentage of 4.86.
Photo By - Covers Media Group
Sportsbooks across Nevada held about $248.8 million on that handle, for a win percentage of 5.11, up from 2016’s hold of $219.2 million, which represented a win percentage of 4.86.
Photo By - Covers Media Group

Sports betting made another huge leap in Nevada in 2017, with the state handle drawing ever closer to $5 billion by finishing the year just under $4.9 billion. That total represents a nearly $400 million increase over the 2016 mark of $4.5 billion.

Sportsbooks across Nevada held about $248.8 million on that handle, for a win percentage of 5.11, up from 2016’s hold of $219.2 million, which represented a win percentage of 4.86.

“We set an all-time record for handle and win,” said Mike Lawton, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. “We’ve done eight consecutive record years. From 2010 to 2017, handle increased by $2.1 billion, or 76.3 percent.”

Football, as always, was the biggest handle driver by far at nearly $1.8 billion, though the books won just 4.4 percent of that at $76.9 million. That marked a 15.7 percent drop in hold from 2016, when sportsbooks won $91.2 million on $1.7 billion in football wagers.

“The football decrease is hold-related – 4.4 percent in 2017, 5.4 percent in 2016,” Lawton said. “The volume was up, so it’s not due to lack of write. It’s getting harder and harder to hold in football.”

The well-documented October-November run of NFL favorites consistently winning and covering was key to the decrease in football hold.

“For sure, it was a contributor,” Lawton said.

However, along with the overall sports betting record, there was plenty of positive news for books in the annual report, released Wednesday morning. Most notably, the Other Sports Pool – which represents all sports except football, basketball and baseball, which are broken out separately – had massive gains. Handle was $427.7 million, up more than $120 million over the 2016 volume of $307.4 million, and the hold was $32.3 million for a healthy win percentage of 7.6.

Much of that gain can be attributed to two things: the massive Mayweather-McGregor fight at the end of August, and the Vegas Golden Knights arriving on the scene in October. And the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez bout in September factored in, as well.

“August-September year-over-year volume was up $78.2 million, or 258.9 percent,” Lawton said. “That accounted for 65 percent of the increase in total volume for Other Sports Pool. The majority of that was due to Mayweather-McGregor and Triple G-Alvarez.”

Then there’s the upstart NHL expansion team. The Golden Knights have taken the city by storm, sitting at first place in the Western Conference, and they’ve clearly captured bettors’ imaginations, too. The Other Sports Pool fourth-quarter handle – for October/November/December – was up more than $120 million over 2016 numbers.

“That last quarter accounted for 17 percent of the Other Sports Pool increase,” Lawton said. “Anecdotally, we’re hearing that it’s definitely the Golden Knights driving a lot of that activity. There was not a major fight in the fourth quarter, so I’m sure a lot of it is attributable to the Golden Knights.”

If the past predicts the future, Nevada should crash through the $5 billion barrier in 2018.

“We’re pretty close,” Lawton said. “Every category set an all-time record for volume except for parlay.”

Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.


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