• Betting action has surpassed $9 billion since May 2018 – when PASPA was repealed by the Supreme Court.
  • Using the hold percentage from sportsbooks is the best indicator of sports bettors’ success.
  • Sportsbooks have seen their hold percentages decrease in every financial quarter since Q3 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With over a year of sports betting in the books, trends have started to form regarding how each state is producing.

It is nearly impossible to compare large gambling markets (NJ, NV, PA, MS) versus the smaller gambling markets (NM, DE, WV, RI). Attempting to analyze the overall handle, revenue kept by the books, or tax contributions to the state can be done; however, it always will lean favorably toward the larger markets.

Instead, evidence of the bettors’ success can be found through the sportsbooks’ hold percentage (the amount of money lost by bettors divided by the total amount of money risked).

As each state has over 6 full months of revenue reported, figuring out who is leading the pack is made much easier. Point of information: New Mexico is not required to detail their sports betting data; therefore, the analysis removes them from the equation entirely.

Since PASPA was repealed (May 2018), over $9 billion has been wagered at legal sportsbooks around the country. Bettors were able to secure 93.52% of the action, leaving nearly $590 million to be kept by the books, before contributing a percentage to their state (and potentially city) governments.

The 6.48% remaining indicates the industry- and nation-wide average for every sportsbooks’ revenue margin. As we look through the quarterly reports though from 2018 Q3 to 2019 Q2, the trend has developed that bettors are getting smarter, leaving with a higher percentage of money wagered in their pockets.

The 6.48 hold percentage started as high as 8.59% in 2018 Q3, dropped heavily to 6.21% to finish off 2018, fell even further to 5.86% in 2019 Q1, and currently sits at the same level for the two fully-reported months of 2019 Q2. But who exactly is responsible for this trend?

Rhode Island comes in as the heavy favorite for smartest bettors. Since their launch, sportsbooks have kept only 4.18% of all action and that number has decreased to 3.72% for all action over 2019.

This is partially from RI’s month of February, where the books posted a -4.31% hold – the only state to have a negative reporting month. However, even in the month prior, sportsbooks collected only 0.84% of all action for the month.

Next comes Nevada, which makes total sense as bettors have been utilizing these books for 70 years. With a hold percentage at 5.94% since PASPA was repealed and a year-to-date percentage at 5.27%, Nevada is largely responsible for the declining revenue reported by books.

Their $2.2 billion handle on the year (with a hold percentage that low) greatly influences the overall numbers from every reporting sports betting state.

Nevada has also seen their hold percentage decrease every quarter since PASPA was repealed, making them one of three states (NJ and WV) to have this accolade.

New Jersey bettors fall right in line with the sports bettors across the country in Nevada. Bettors on the year have only allowed the NJ sportsbooks to hold 5.84% of action.

As the only state that has surpassed Nevada in a monthly betting handle, New Jersey plays a similar role as Nevada in the declining book revenue.

On the complete opposite side on the spectrum, Mississippi gamblers have made sportsbooks quite happy in their near-twelve-month sports betting history.

The state comes in as the worst of the seven reporting sports betting states. Only them and Delaware have hold percentages (since launch) above 10% but Delaware’s has been on the decline, falling under 10% for action during 2019.

Mississippi books are seeing the opposite, as the 10.08% hold percentage has been slowly increasing thanks to the 10.59% posted year-to-date.

It will be interesting to see how this trend emerges moving forward, especially with the inclusion of Arkansas, who launched on July 1.

Other states that have approved sports betting laws and are pending their launch include New York, Montana, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia. Most of them are expected to get started in time for football season, which should be a great second-year marker for the legal sports betting industry.

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