Nevada has long been the gold standard of sports betting. That started to change when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down in 2018.
Less than five years later some Nevada residents are beginning to head out of state to take advantage of new sportsbook opportunities.
More sportsbooks are offering new and more ways to bet have been popping up all over the country. While there’s been plenty of innovation at sportsbooks around the country, Nevada sports betting operators have remained comparatively stagnant.
Nevada sportsbooks don’t appear to be in any hurry to keep up with the competition outside of the state. For example, while states throughout the country offered numerous ways to gamble on the NFL Draft, Nevada sportsbooks scaled back despite Las Vegas hosting the event.
Some Nevada sportsbooks may not offer NFL Draft betting next year. Despite the smaller betting menus and lack of remote sports betting app registration, the state is doing better than ever with sports betting. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada sports betting revenue in 2021 increased by 69% from 2020.
The “rising tide lifts all boats” theory is standing strong with Nevada sportsbooks. The handle (amount of money gambled) on sports in Nevada is increasing as sports betting goes mainstream.
However, the boat could be hitting rough waters as a nearby state begins to ascend in the ranks of states offering legal sports betting. While this appears to be helping Nevada, there could be a slowdown as sports betting becomes legal in nearby states
Nevada residents beginning to visit Arizona to bet on sports
There is a noticeable trend of Nevada sports bettors heading to Arizona to bet on sports. According to Geocomply, a software geolocation company, the number isn’t significant yet.
The number of Nevada sports bettors today might not be heading to Arizona in large numbers but that could change as the Arizona sports betting market matures and if Nevada remains stagnant.
Nevada sports bettors are always looking for an advantage. It seems as though someone is asking for a recommendation on visiting Arizona just to place some online bets.
18 sportsbooks in Arizona
Arizona hasn’t been seen as competition but that could be changing. The state has 18 sportsbooks according to Legal Sports Report. Even though some of the following sportsbooks operate in Nevada, they offer different betting menus and odds in other states.
- Bally Bet
- Desert Diamond Digital
- Golden Nugget
- Hard Rock
Arizona has more sportsbook operators than Nevada despite sports betting just becoming legal. Brands like BetMGM and Caesars offer much larger betting menus and various promotions in Arizona that aren’t available in the Silver State.
For example, BetMGM offers a $1,000 bonus bet for new customers in Arizona. This is quite the offer compared to what the company offers in Las Vegas. A couple of friends visiting from the east coast last November received a couple of drink tickets to sign up for BetMGM at Aria.
Arizona sportsbooks have compelling betting options and promotions
Some bettors are looking for large menus when they decide to visit Arizona just to bet on sports. Different bettors may just want to claim a bonus that isn’t offered in Nevada.
Whatever the reason, the betting menu and offers from Arizona sportsbooks are compelling enough for Southern Nevada bettors to pay the high gas prices just to bet on sports. Some bettors will pull off the road shortly after crossing the Arizona border.
Nevada residents visiting Arizona to take advantage of the large betting menu and promotions are playing out similar to other states new to sports betting. When New Jersey legalized sports betting many visitors on the border in New York and Pennsylvania would visit just to place a wager.
Eyes are now on New Jersey to see if the state is losing business to New York. Nevada may never lose a substantial amount of revenue to Arizona even if it’s possible.
Maybe Nevada Gaming and sportsbook operators will get aggressive and keep residents in the Silver State from driving across state lines to bet on sports not available in the state.
Arizona standing strong among states with legal sports betting
Arizona sportsbooks had a record-high $690 million handle in March. More than 99% of sports bets in Arizona were placed online and via mobile devices thanks to user-friendly online betting apps and regulations. DraftKings and FanDuel led the way for individual sportsbook handles.
For comparison, Nevada’s handle for March was $863 million. Nevada is still ahead but there’s plenty of sports betting happening in a state about 30 minutes away from the Vegas Strip.
Arizona may never match Nevada in sports betting handle but it isn’t insignificant. The state ranked 6th in the US for sports handle in March:
- New York – $1.645 billion
- New Jersey – $1.121 billion
- Illinois – $971.3 million
- Nevada – $863.283 million
- Pennsylvania – $714.976 million
- Arizona – $690.9 million
The case for Arizona being competition for Nevada may come in a way the sportsbook industry never considered. Sure, the sportsbook operators expect some Arizona bettors to stay home. However, there’s been little discussion of Nevada residents leaving the state to bet on sports.
The sportsbook operators in Arizona are looking to acquire new customers. Many are offering special promotions such as large deposit bonuses for new customers.
Nevada should not take the competition from Arizona lightly. The competition is making Nevada residents drive to Arizona to get in on the action.
Look out for California
If there’s been a concern about regional competition for Nevada it usually comes from California. The state is home to two large markets within driving distance to Las Vegas (Los Angeles and San Deigo). California also has a large market in the north with the San Francisco bay area a close drive to Reno and Lake Tahoe.
According to the most recent Las Vegas Visitors Profile by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 30% of Las Vegas visitors in 2021 came from California.
The survey of 2021 tourists in Las Vegas also showed that about 11% of visitors were from Arizona.
Altogether, more than 50% of visitors drive to Las Vegas from nearby states. This isn’t a new trend as it goes well past the five years covered in this recent Visitor Profile.
Legal sports betting could be coming to California but it might not be the same as Nevada or other states have to offer. Multiple bills could soon decide the fate of legal California sports betting.