Record amounts bet, lost in Nevada in 2017
More money was bet — and lost — at Nevada sportsbooks in 2017 than in any previous year.
The state’s sportsbooks won a record $248.7 million off the $4.8 billion wagered in 2017, according to numbers released Wednesday by Nevada Gaming Control.
The record amount won in 2017 tops the previous mark set in 2015 by nearly $17 million. The state has set a record for handle — the amount bet — in eight consecutive years.
Even amid declining television ratings, concerns over concussions and political controversy over player protests, football remains the most popular sport to bet. An all-time high $1.7 billion was wagered on professional and college football last year. The books won $76.8 million on football, making 2017 the sixth-most profitable football year ever.
“Our NFL handle was up quite a bit from last year, double figures (percentage increase),” said Jason Simbal, vice president of risk for Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology. “Our college numbers were up too, year over year.”
“A lot of people are complaining about these games,” said Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. “You know, ‘poor football, boring and the ratings are horrible, kneeling’ … well, it hasn’t slowed them down at the betting windows. That held true for their entire season. We had a nice, sizeable increase year over year.”
Basketball and baseball also saw increased betting interest. More than $1.4 billion was bet on basketball, both college and professional, and baseball attracted $1.1 billion in bets. Both are record amounts.
The sportsbooks capped 2017 by winning $34.5 million in December. The books have come out ahead in 53 consecutive months, a streak that dates back to July 2013.
As the Nevada industry continues to grow, the United States Supreme Court is reviewing a federal sports betting law and is preparing to release a decision in the coming months that could give other states an opportunity to legalize sports betting.
More than a dozen states have introduced sports betting legislation in recent years, but for now, only Nevada is allowed to offer a full legal menu.
“There are various reasons which have contributed to the phenomenal growth Nevada’s sports wagering industry has seen over the past eight years,” Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for Nevada Gaming Control, told ESPN. “On a macro level, the general health of the sports betting industry in Nevada has never been stronger. With major networks mentioning point spreads and ‘bad beats’ on their prime-time shows, national press stories on expanded Super Bowl propositions along with the unique March Madness experience in Las Vegas, the state continues to see more regional and national tourists.”