Nevada Breaks Sports Betting Records In 2018 With $5 Billion In Wagers

Written By Marc Meltzer on February 19, 2019
Nevada sports betting 2019

Nevada sportsbooks saw more wagers on sports than the previous year, a total that topped $5 billion.

According to the UNLV Center For Gaming Research, Nevada sports bettors have wagered more money on sports every year since 2010.

In 2018, Nevada sports bettors wagered more than $5 billion. The handle for Nevada broke a record in 2018 but that’s just the beginning. Not only was more money wagered in Nevada than ever before but casinos saw a huge win in 2018.

According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) casinos won more than $300 million. That was an increase of more than 20 percent from 2017. This is another record total for Nevada.

How Nevadans bet on sports in 2018

It was a typical year in some ways for Nevada sports bettors. Once again there was more money wagered on football than any other sport:

  • Football: $1,813,416,000
  • Basketball: $1,509,121,000
  • Baseball: $1,026,863,000

Overall, there was more money wagered on football and basketball in 2017 in Nevada. Baseball was the only major sport to see less money wagered than the previous year. The$1,026,863,000 wagered on baseball in 2018 was less than both 2016 and 2017.

The NGCB might want to consider breaking out some of the previously smaller sports from the “other” category. The Vegas Golden Knights and UFC are helping to boost the amount of money wagered “other” sports. More money was wagered on “other” sports than ever before in Nevada with$566,804,000.

Parlays are more popular than ever

Parlays are popular with both sportsbook operators and customers. Multi-game wagers are more difficult for bettors to win. Despite the difficulty to win, there was $95,129,000 wagered on parlays in 2018 in Nevada. That’s a massive 33 percent increase from the $62,923,000 wagered on parlays in 2017.

Recreational sports bettors enjoy wagering the riskier parlays because of the potential larger win from combining multiple games into one bet. The media loves to share tales of the $2 parlay that wins thousands of dollars.

There will be more of these kinds of bettors as sports gambling becomes more accepted by the national media across the country. The greater the exposure to big wins, the more likely less experienced bettors will take a chance to win their own jackpots.

The amount wagered on parlays should continue to increase in Nevada and at new sportsbooks around the country.

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How sportsbooks won money in 2018

Nevada sportsbook operators won $301,048,000 in 2018. They won more money from each of the big three sports in 2018 than the previous year.

  • Football: $102,458,000 (+33.24 percent)
  • Basketball: $99,602,000 (+13.92 percent)
  • Baseball: $47,133,000 (+28.03 percent)

Thanks mostly to the Vegas Golden Knights the sportsbooks won less money in the “other” sports last year. Sportsbook only won $28,907,000 (-10.74 percent) in other sports in 2018.

Nevada is a fairly efficient sports betting market. The balance of sharper sports bettors and recreational sports bettors mean that sportsbooks often have fair lines and odds. That doesn’t mean that the sportsbooks win the same amount in every sport available.

In 2018, sportsbook operators won different percentages of wagers made in the big three sports:

  • Football: 5.65 percent
  • Basketball: 6.6 percent
  • Baseball: 4.59 percent
  • Parlay: 24.08 percent
  • Other: 5.1 percent

The state’s sportsbooks won a greater percentage of wagers in each of the big three sports. The only group of sports where they didn’t win as much by percentage in 2018 was the other category. Thanks to the Vegas Golden Knights, sportsbooks win in that category fell from 7.56 percent in 2017 to 5.1 percent last year.

Looking ahead

This should be the first year where Nevada sees other states begin to chip away at their lead in sports betting. Even though Nevada is one of the fastest growing states its overall population is minuscule compared to other states in the U.S.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if New Jersey or Pennsylvania surpass the Nevada betting handle. After all, New Jersey has nearly almost nine million residents and Pennsylvania has 12 million residents.

Poor little Nevada and its 3 million residents could be left in the figurative dust with only 3 million residents. The state does have one thing the others don’t. Las Vegas alone sees about 42 million tourists which will certainly keep the Silver State in the game.

Some Nevada sportsbook operators will continue to push for new regulations to allow mobile sports wagering app customers to sign up for sports betting apps without visiting a casino. This should help increase the number of people wagering on sports in the future.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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