Sports bettors of Delaware suffered a historically bad month in October, with the state’s sportsbooks reporting a 14% hold - Montana was not far behind with a 12.9% hold.

  • Delaware’s sports bettors have suffered a historically bad stretch, with sportsbooks reporting over a 10% hold in nine of the last 12 months – this includes a 14% hold in October.
  • Both Delaware and Montana, the states with the two highest reported holds for October, both feature extremely aggressive sports betting tax policies.

DOVER, Del. – Over half of the states in the union have legalized and regulated sports betting in some fashion, with each state’s industry varying dramatically. Similarly, each state’s sports bettors’ experience varies dramatically, as evidenced by October’s hold percentage for each state.

A sportsbook’s hold is the amount of money kept by the book after all bets are settled; traditionally, a 5% hold has been the mark that most sportsbooks strive to achieve. This can vary somewhat based on bettors’ performances, but even accounting for that variable, several states saw historically bad months for bettors in October.

Delaware Leads The Way

No state’s sports bettors had a worse month than those of Delaware. In the month of October, Delaware sportsbooks reported a whopping 14% hold on a $22,238,321 total handle, a higher hold than any other state in the country.

October was also the ninth month out of the last year in which Delaware reported a hold rate greater than 10%.

While Delaware sports bettors have certainly suffered a historically bad stretch, it may not be entirely their fault.

According to Delaware HS 1 For HB 100, the enabling document for the legal sports betting industry in the state, all sports betting revenue is taxed at a 51% clip.

This high tax rate affects sports betting in Delaware in a few ways. Most notably, in order to make up for the extremely high tax rate, sportsbooks will raise the vigorish. Some sportsbooks hold odds as short as (-150) for straight up bets, making it very difficult for the betting public to turn a profit long-term.

Montana Close Behind

High tax rates are hurting the pockets of sports bettors in other states, too. The state that reported the second-highest hold for the month of October was Montana (12.9%), who has one of the most aggressive sports betting taxation policies in the United States.

As opposed to taxing a set percentage of revenue, the state of Montana keeps all sports betting revenue, minus expenses. Sports betting sales agents are entitled to 6% of the total handle for the sportsbook. This means that legal Montana sportsbooks also increase the vigorish significantly to boost the total handle.

It’s Not Just The Taxes

While the tax rate certainly is influencing the high hold rate for those two states, another thing Montana and Delaware sports bettors have in common is a lack of mobile options. This may be the determining factor in influencing a high hold: nine of the top 10 states with the highest hold for October offer three mobile sportsbooks or fewer.

A lack of mobile options hurts sports bettors significantly. One of the most common and productive strategies sports bettors employ is called “shopping lines” – this refers to comparing the odds for a game across multiple sportsbooks, and using the sportsbook that offers the most advantageous odds to the bettor. Without many options, sportsbooks can collude to offer similar odds that benefit the sportsbook.

As with any other market, the more options that are available to the consumer, the more likely the consumer is to have a good experience.

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