- Nevada’s March sports betting handle was its lowest since 1993.
- With COVID-19 grinding sports to a halt around the world and closing casinos, the short-term financial future for Nevada sportsbooks looks grim.
- Nevada does feature mobile and online sports betting, but in-person registration requirements could prevent the state from maximizing its online revenue-generating potential.
- February was a successful month for Nevada sportsbooks—casinos will need to find ways to stretch that revenue until the situation changes.
LAS VEGAS – In 2020, Nevada recorded its lowest March sports betting handle in 27 years. The precipitous decrease was primarily the result of the Coronavirus pandemic and its associated shutdowns.
Nevada sportsbooks handled a total of $141.1 million in sports wagers in March but earned only $1.45 million in sports betting revenue — a paltry hold rate of 1.03%.
Total Nevada sports betting handle decreased by 71% from February and a 76% decrease from March 2019. Revenue decreased by an even more unfathomable 96% compared to both February 2020 and March 2019.
A low sample size is likely responsible for much of this financial volatility. Sports betting was essentially limited to the first 11 days of March, as most major professional and college sports suspended play on March 12.
Extrapolated over an entire 31-day month, Nevada was on pace for $397.7 million in handle and $4.1 million in revenue, although both figures would likely have been substantially more than that thanks to the popularity of March Madness betting.
Financial Impact Of COVID-19 On Nevada Sports Betting
The state of Nevada forced all casinos to shut down on March 17, 2020, to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no firm timeline on when they could reopen.
Nevada does feature legal online and mobile sports betting, so casino sportsbooks will at least be able to maintain some revenue, but there are few sporting events around the world to bet on right now.
Additionally, online sportsbooks in Nevada require players to register in person at a partnered casino, which creates a cumbersome barrier that has limited the appeal of online betting. This restriction also ensures that the state can’t expand its player base during the quarantine.
Nevada’s casinos are lucky that February was a veritable windfall for in-state sportsbooks because of the Super Bowl. February and March revenues are likely to be the last significant legal sports betting revenues for a long time.
It may not be safe to fully reopen casinos until late 2020 or even early 2021, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to the widespread suspension of global sports either. Until the situation changes, Nevada, like all states, will just have to find ways to stretch its revenue and weather the storm.
With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.