Losing College Football Could Be A $50 Million Loss For Nevada Sportsbooks

Written By Marc Meltzer on August 14, 2020 - Last Updated on August 19, 2020

College football season is slowly slipping away. This week the Big Ten, Pac 12, and UNLV’s Mountain West conferences postponed their respective football seasons.

Delaying the seasons to the spring would be a disappointment for sports fans, bettors and sportsbooks. However, all three will survive with the season moving.

Canceling the 2020-2021 college season would be another story for all involved.

If these and other college football conferences completely cancel their respective football seasons, it would crush the souls of fans and bettors. Meanwhile, canceling the college football season could inflict major damage to already hurting sportsbooks in Nevada.

No college football could be big loss for Nevada sportsbooks

Football is the big moneymaker for Nevada sportsbooks. According to UNLV Gaming Research, there has been more money wagered on football annually in Nevada than any other sport since at least 1984. That’s more than 35 years and likely goes back even longer.

In 2019, over $1.8 billion was wagered on professional and college football. Anecdotally, college football accounts for about 40% of the total amount bet on football.

Last year, Nevada sportsbooks won 6.55% of the football wagers placed. This gave sportsbooks a total win from football wagers of over $120 million. Quick math shows that sportsbooks won approximately $48.9 million from college football wagers last year.

Nevada sportsbooks won a greater percentage of football wagers than basketball or baseball. Parlays aren’t broken down by sport, but football makes up a large percentage of this type of wager.

While bettors can make a parlay with most sports, football is the most popular with multiple parlay card options every week of the seasons.

Last year, Nevada sportsbooks won 29.84% of the over $50 million in parlay bets. The total win for sportsbooks from parlays placed last year was just over $14.9 million. A large chunk of that money will also be gone if college football doesn’t resume play in early 2021.

Westgate Sportsbook Director John Murray explained the difference earlier this week:

“The real question is are they postponing it or canceling it? Because if they postpone it until the spring, I don’t think it will be that bad for us. As long as we got college football in the spring, theoretically we’d get our handle back in the spring. That wouldn’t be disastrous.

But if they outright cancel it like March Madness, that will be very, very bad. That was really a blow to us, to just lose the NCAA Tournament and never get it back.”

This makes sense. Shifting when wagers are placed on games can be seen right now. This could be the busiest August Nevada sportsbooks and Nevada sports betting apps have ever seen.

Unique August gambling opportunities

August is usually the epitome of the dog days of summer in Nevada sportsbooks. This month is typically the middle of the baseball season with few other wagering options.

Sportsbooks are usually home to a few people enjoying the air conditioning and a couple of day baseball games and soccer matches. The action sometimes picks up after 4 p.m. with more MLB games.

The summer is one of the most relaxing times to be in the sportsbook. The lack of games means there aren’t too many people filling the seats in the great Silver State sportsbooks. This year is a bit different thanks to what seems to be the never-ending spread of the coronavirus.

The NBA and NHL have both resumed their respective seasons after pausing in March. Both leagues have live games starting in the morning and continuing throughout the day.

MLB is sticking to its normal schedule with a few day games sprinkled into the daily schedule of mostly night games.

This August is a gambler’s paradise with different live games happening all day and night. Between pre-game and in-play wagering, there are more betting opportunities than usual.

Sportsbooks should show a very active month when the Nevada Gaming Control Board releases a revenue report for August.

Bigger and better March Madness 2021?

The sports betting action will slow down soon as the NBA and NHL Playoffs wind down in the next couple of months. MLB will attempt to complete its season despite multiple coronavirus outbreaks just a few weeks into the season.

Even though professional and select college football teams might play, there won’t be quite as many games to keep sports bettors entertained this winter.

Next spring could be another unique and exciting time to be a sports bettor. Here are some possibilities for a wild March Madness next year:

  • College football could decide to play this spring if the pandemic slows down to a point where playing games is safe again.
  • The NFL season could continue into the spring if the season is paused due to a coronavirus outbreak. Nobody wants to see this, but it’s a possibility.
  • NBA and NHL are expected to begin their 2020-2021 season around Christmas or early next year. The seasons would play into March and beyond.
  • The NCAA makes a plan to play the next basketball season. Colleges could also just play some kind of mega-Madness tournament in a bubble during March and April.

It’s impossible to know what will happen in the next seven days, let alone seven months. The possibility of another “Return to Sports” in the spring could be fantastic for sports fans, bettors and sportsbooks.

Marc Meltzer Avatar
Written by
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.

View all posts by Marc Meltzer
Privacy Policy