Not a whole lot has gone right for the US legal sports betting industry in July. 14 states have already reported a significant dip in their month-to-month handles and on Thursday, Nevada was added to the list with an all-too-familiar double-digit drop in its overall July sports wagering activity. It isn’t all bad news for the Nevada scene, however. While most states saw declines in both their overall handles and their sports betting revenues, Nevada actually saw a rare spike in their sportsbook profits.
That unforeseen increase carried the Nevada sports betting scene past a special milestone that only one other jurisdiction has been able to reach since the Supreme Court overturned its blanket ban on sports betting in 2018. July 2021, despite some lagging numbers also represented the largest July handle and revenue totals for the state in history.
Getting Into the Numbers
You would be hard-pressed to find any analyst that was surprised with Thursday’s news of a handle dip in Nevada. The state’s sportsbooks took in just $409.7 million in July – a significant 24.9% month-to-month skid from the $545.4 million from June. Year-over-year, Nevada’s sports betting handle revealed a predictably monumental jump. July of 2020 produced just $163.5 million, 150.5% less than was produced last month.
Nevada’s lagging mobile sports betting platform also revealed a dip in month-to-month activity. 59% of the overall handle, or $242 million of the total $409.7 million came from the state’s betting apps, which is a decent drop from the $314.3 million in June and the 62.4% they were responsible for in May and 65.3% in April. For comparisons sake, 90%+ of the overall handles of other Heavyweight states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois are generated from their states’ mobile apps.
Rare Increase and Rarified Air
Through all of the bad news reported in the broader US legal sports betting industry in July, Nevada was able to inject some positivity into the conversation. Profits for the state’s sportsbooks actually jumped 14% month-to-month, from $29.2 million in June to $33.3 million in July. Nevada became the only US jurisdiction to report any sort of increase, handle or revenues so far in July thanks in part to a relatively high 8.12% hold rate.
State and local tax coffers benefitted to the tune of $2.25 million from Nevada’s sportsbook profits in July. July’s profits elevated the Nevada sports betting industry into some rarified air. With the $33.3 million in profits, sportsbook revenues surpassed the $1 billion since May 2018 when the Supreme Court reversed their nationwide blanket ban on sports betting. Only New Jersey has reached that milestone over the same timeframe – they did it in April.
With the relatively short betting menu for sports enthusiasts in July, it is no surprise which sport dominated the overall handle. It was baseball that was the big winner with $227.6 million in bets. The “Other” category came in a surprising second thanks to the huge Conor McGregor/Dustin Poirier fight on July 11. Basketball was responsible for just $77 million in bets in July, which represents an incredible $117 million drop from the $194 bet on hoops in June.
While the prolonged seasonal summer betting slump has been notable, sportsbooks in Nevada aren’t exactly pushing the panic button just yet. The industry’s bread-and butter NFL and College Football Season are ready to roll and to produce enormous betting totals for the state once again. Las Vegas and Reno are beginning to see a post-COVID tourism bump, although the virus threatens to once again slow the progress of openings on The Strip in particular. The retail numbers, in turn, should start to creep up for Nevada casinos, adding to the state’s monthly totals.
So, while August figures to be yet another disappointing sports betting month, September is when the industry gets a major shot in the arm. Nevada likely won’t reach New Jersey sports betting numbers but there is little reason to think they won’t maintain their spot at #2 on the list of the most bet-friendly states in the US. It’s going to be an interesting fall indeed, and Nevada will be right in the middle of all the intrigue.