No state’s legal sports betting industry was harder hit by COVID-19 and its related restrictions than Nevada. But June’s legal sports betting numbers released Thursday promote a sense of serious optimism that the “Grandfather of Sports Betting States” is finally on the road to recovery.
Tourists returned to Las Vegas and Reno in June, COVID-19 restrictions on capacity-limits, social distancing and masks were eased in June and the sports betting industry bounced back. This, during a summer sports betting period that has followed a pattern of country-wide slowdowns in overall wagering activity and has fallen victim to a relatively slim sports betting menu.
Deep Dive Into the Numbers
Despite the broad summer slowdown in sports betting, Nevada’s legal sports betting scene was able to record an impressive 14.2% jump in overall wagering activity. A $544.8 million handle bests May’s unimpressive $477.2 million sports betting take by almost $70 million. Revenues also saw an upward trend for Nevada sportsbooks, although they weren’t quite at the level of the overall handle. Sportsbooks made $29.2 million in profits in June – a 7.8% increase from the $27.1 million reported in May.
The hold rate unfortunately was around 5.35% which comes in among the lowest of the states that have already reported their June sports betting figures. Baseball was the main driver of Nevada’s bounce back June handle. It accounted for an impressive $226.24 million toward the overall handle. Basketball was next with a $193.95 million contribution, “other” provided $80.5 million and hockey contributed just over $44 million.
Retail Creeping Back
Nevada has never been known for a strong mobile sports betting scene, but it too saw a small spike in June activity. Betting apps in the state were responsible for about $314 million, which is a 5.5% increase from the $298 million the state’s apps took in during May. Still, Nevada’s mobile scene generated just 57.6% of the overall $544.8 million June handle – a slight dip from the 62.4% in May and the 64.8% in April. Other elite sports betting states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania count on 90% of their overall handles coming via the internet.
There are tangible signs that Nevada’s retail sector is creeping back to pre-COVID levels, however. The retail numbers could be the reason for the mobile sector accounting for less of the state’s overall sports betting handle. Nevada’s retail sportsbooks saw a month-to-month increase of about 31% – from $178 million in May to a more impressive $231 million in June. That number is sure to increase with the bounce back of the critical tourism sector and the fact that the NFL season is just over two months away.
Retaking a Solid Second
Nevada’s COVID-affected down months saw it slip down the list of bet-friendly states in the US. Their $544.8 million June handle saw them retake a solid second place on that list, almost $125 million ahead of their main challenger for the spot, Pennsylvania which reported a $420 million June handle. They are still some $222 million behind runaway leader New Jersey for top spot.
June’s legal sports betting numbers show just how important tourism, and the retail betting sector is to Nevada’s bottom line. During the worst of the pandemic, Nevada wasn’t close to second on the bet-friendly list. There were even months where they slipped to fourth. As long as a fourth wave of COVID doesn’t materialize – not guaranteed, Nevada’s retaking of a solid second should be maintained.
Looking Ahead to July
The month of July is once again expected to be underwhelming before NFL betting picks up in August and the games start in earnest in September. But June will be the month at takes Nevada over the magical $1 billion in revenues since the PASPA was overturned in 2018. Nevada, with just $6.6 million in revenues will be just the second state to reach that milestone since 2018.
But, assuming that COVID-19 doesn’t lock things down in the US once again, and that’s not guaranteed, the road back to record handles is in clear sight for Nevada sportsbooks. Many fingers are crossed that June’s uptick is a sign of things to come in Nevada and that Las Vegas and Reno can return to their former glory.