Online sportsbooks in Nevada handled more than $1 billion for the third consecutive month during an action-packed December. The total handle hit $1,013,986,620 in the Silver State. That was a modest decline on the $1.1 billion they handled in November, but it pushed the annual tally to a record $8.1 billion.
That ensured Nevada was the second-largest state for sports betting in 2021, behind New Jersey but ahead of Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Mobile operators are somewhat hamstrung by an in-person registration requirement in the state, but the industry remains strong.
However, gross gaming revenue for December was a paltry $15.9 million. That amounts to a hold of just 1.6%, which is well below the average of between 6% and 7%.
Bettors Beat the Books
Hockey bettors in Nevada had a great month, leaving sportsbooks with a loss of $1.3 million on the sport. Silver State sports betting operators also suffered a loss of $600,000 on baseball.
Parlays – normally the most lucrative wagering category for sportsbooks – also set them back $1.9 million, while there was a slight loss for the “other sports” category, which features, soccer, tennis, golf, boxing, MMA, and so on.
The hold on basketball was just 0.7%, leaving sportsbooks with $2.9 million in revenue from a handle of $408.7 million. They held 3.9% of the $447.1 million wagered on football, which was good for $16.9 million in revenue, but it was a tough month overall for the books and a strong month for the bettors.
Nevada Revenue Eclipses Pre-Pandemic Levels
However, the overall revenue for the year reached $445.1 million. Nevada has one of the country’s lowest tax rates, so it earned $30 million from that total. Sports betting accounted for just 3.5% of the total $12.8 billion in revenue that the state’s wider gaming industry delivered in 2021.
While it is growing in popularity, it is dwarfed by the slot machines at casinos in Las Vegas and Reno. Slots earned revenue of $9.6 billion for operators in Nevada last year. Nevada secured more than $1 billion in gaming revenue in each of the final 10 months of 2021.
“The reasons for the record level of gaming win recorded this calendar year began with the successful rollout of vaccines, which eliminated capacity restrictions on the gaming floor,” said Michael Lawton, senior analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
“This demand was being driven by healthy consumer savings as the result of stimulus payments and the sustained rebound of leisure travel. Additionally, the return of special events and entertainment continued to boost gaming win to record levels.”
He added that mobile sports betting accounted for 64.6% of all sports wagers in 2021, upfront 57.1% in 2020. Its share exceeded 70% in the final months of the year.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported that there were 32.2 million visitors to Sin City for the year. That is up 69.4% in 2020, but still, 24.2% down on 2019 and considerably short of the record of 42.9 million set back in 2016.
“Overall hotel occupancy approached 67% for the year, dramatically ahead of the 2020s 42.1%, but below the 88.3% level of 2019,” said Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA research center. “Compared to midweek activity, weekends saw a stronger recovery, exceeding 87% in seven out of 12 months and ending the year at 81.3%, up 28.5 points from 2020, but down 13.6 points vs. 2019.”