Nevada Reports Slight May Legal Sports Betting Increase
Nevada Reports Slight May Legal Sports Betting Increase
Thomas & Mack Center on March 12, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. David Becker/Getty Images/AFP

The state of Nevada was due for some good news. After 18 months of lockdowns, a virtual pause of their bread-and-butter tourist industry and the detrimental effects of the coronavirus pandemic, things may finally be looking up for one of, if not the most important legal sports betting jurisdictions in the country.

On Thursday, the Nevada Gaming Commission released their May sports betting numbers and while most were expecting a typical seasonal slowdown to continue, the Silver State actually reported a slight increase in sports betting activity.

Even though hard restrictions were only lifted June 1, there was a familiar energy reported in the major centers in Nevada during May. That activity may have contributed to the handle increases and has ultimately given the state a sense of optimism that “normal” is just around the corner.

Diving Into the Numbers

The summer is, like in most sports betting jurisdictions in the US, a slower time for Nevada sportsbooks across the board. With a lack of marquee events, seasonal slowdowns are a real, tangible thing for the US wagering scene.

But Nevada was able to buck the trends and posted an increase in overall betting activity in May, similar to what Colorado, New Jersey, Indiana, Mississippi and Washington DC have reported with respect to their May handles.

Nevada sportsbooks took in $477.2 million in sports bets during May – a month-to-month increase of 4.9%, from the $454.7 million reported in April.

Revenues, thanks in part to a relatively low 5.7% hold rate for the state in May, were unable to follow suit, dropping a modest 0.6%. Sportsbooks made $27.1 million in May, down from $27.24 million in April.

Approximately $1.8 million in taxes was collected off the profits for Nevada’s needy state and local programs.

Mobile Still Lagging and Hoops Still Dominating

Mobile betting in Nevada continues to be adversely affected by the state’s insistence on in-person sign-up requirements for wagering apps. The remote procedures in rival New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana to name a few have led to their states’ internet-based platforms contributing between 80% and 90% of their impressive monthly sports betting hauls.

In Nevada, mobile sportsbooks in May accounted for just 62.4% of the state’s overall legal sports betting handle – a drop from the 63.5% reported in April. Retail sportsbooks on the other hand generated $179.7 million in handle — an increase of 11.8% from April’s figure of $160.7 million.

It is hard to fathom what Nevada’s overall handle would be like if their mobile scene were able to catch up to those of other competing states.

Once again, it was basketball that was the main sports driver for Nevada’s May sports betting handle. Basketball was responsible for $181.5 million of the $477.2 million total May handle and about $11.4 million in revenues. Baseball followed with a $179.6 million and $8.7 million revenue contribution and hockey, thanks to the deep playoff run of the Vegas Golden Knights contributed $52.3 million to the total handle and $2.3 million in revenue.

Getting Back on Track

Optimism seems to be a common theme when talking about the Nevada legal sports betting scene going forward. Tourism is already starting to return to normal, sportsbooks are able to be at full capacity and peoples’ thirst to hit Vegas and act on their pent-up wagering energy should serve the state well as we head deeper into the summer.

With Euro 2020 heating up, the Olympics around the corner and with the NFL season a mere three months away, Nevada is experiencing an excitement that has been sadly lacking for the better part of a year-and-a-half.

Where Nevada Has Been and Where It Is Expected to Go

Thanks to Nevada’s May sports betting report, we were able to get a snapshot of just what the sports betting industry has looked like since 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned the PASPA and let states decide on the fate of legal sports betting for their jurisdictions.

Nevada was the most bet-friendly state in the country until about 10 months ago and spent time in second place on the list of most successful states in the nation before slipping to fourth last month.

Nevada, despite a slip in their standing, still managed a combined $902 million in sports bets over April and May of this year, an enormous jump from the $56.3 million during the COVID-ravaged April and May of 2020 and significantly higher than the $645 million in sports bets Nevada took in during April and May of 2019.

Once the Dust Settle

June and beyond should be a good months for Nevada sportsbooks. June could see the state reach the milestone $1 billion in revenues since June 2018, having hit $964.2 million with May’s totals.

With tourists returning in droves and the state’s retail sector returning to normal, we could continue to see increases rather than typical summer slowdowns for the Nevada scene.

Whether or not Nevada will ever be able to pass New Jersey for #1 remains to be seen, but a return to second doesn’t appear out of the question.

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