Football No Longer King Of Nevada Sports Betting

Written By Marc Meltzer on August 14, 2023
Football is no longer most bet sport in Nevada

Stop the presses! Football is no longer the undisputed champion of sports betting in Nevada.

Football is still the most popular sport to bet on around the country. During football season last October, 81% of gamblers around the country placed a football bet. There was a time when the amount of money wagered on football in Nevada was drastically larger than any other sport.

That wasn’t the case in 2022.

More money bet on basketball than football in Nevada last year

Bettors in Nevada can bet on pretty much any sport taking place across the world. Nevada sports betting does not prohibit betting on college sports, like with some states.

Last year, for the first time since the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) started keeping records in 1998, bettors in The Silver State wagered more money on basketball than on football.

Nevada bettors wagered $2.84 billion on basketball in 2022. This total includes NBA, WNBA and college basketball. The amount of money bet on pro and college football was slightly lower at $2.786 billion.

This will surprise some sports betting industry trackers as football has been atop the sports betting mountain for decades. Historically speaking, there has been much more money wagered on football than on basketball. Since 1992, UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research shows that $41.2 billion has been wagered on football compared to $29.8 billion for basketball.

The trend of Nevada bettors wagering on basketball is relatively new. Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the NGCB, shared more information on the change in preference for sports bettors to PlayNevada:

“When you compare the betting volumes of the two sports over the past 10 years (2013-2022), basketball growth has outpaced football with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 11.7% vs. 6.2% for football. However, basketball had never surpassed football’s total until (2022).”

Lawton went on to say that this isn’t an overall industry trend. Many Nevada sportsbook operators still saw more money wagered on football than basketball last year.

The amount of money wagered on football and basketball in Nevada dwarfs all other sports. Baseball is a distant third. The NGCB just started tracking hockey betting. It will take years for pucks to catch up to the traditional Big Three sports.

Football still more profitable for sportsbooks

Don’t bury football betting just yet. Wagering on the pigskin is still atop the mountain for Nevada sportsbooks.

While more money was wagered on basketball in 2022, football remained more profitable for Nevada sportsbooks.

Last year, Nevada sportsbooks won $165 million from all football wagers for a 5.95% win. They collected $118 million in basketball wagers. This was good for a more minor 4.17% win.

According to the NGCB, Nevada sportsbooks have won $2.1 billion on football bets since 1989. Basketball winnings during that time were only $1.5 billion.

The amount of money wagered on basketball could be a blip or a sign of things to come. Lawton told PlayUSA that basketball isn’t topping football at all sportsbooks.

“Many operators’ football totals still exceeded basketball, so the change was not experienced industry-wide. … (t)his is something we will continue to watch to determine if this was an anomaly or if there is indeed a structural shift between football and basketball.”

Nevada bettors are not shying away from betting on football. Lawton said football betting set an “all-time record total for wagers” in 2022.

Bettors are just placing more wagers on basketball than ever.

Looking forward

Nevada sports betting will continue to evolve. This will help increase revenue for sportsbook operators throughout the state.

Since in-person registration is still required for Nevada sports betting apps, less than 70% of wagers are placed via a mobile device during any given month. States that have less substantial retail sportsbooks may see as much as 95% of all wagers placed online or with a mobile device.

This difference is reflected in how much Nevada sportsbooks win from the total amount of money wagered on sports. Over the past few decades, Nevada sportsbooks hold somewhere between 4% and 7% of all money wagered.

The hold percentage is much higher outside of Nevada. Legal Sports Report shows sportsbook hold is already more than 8% and growing across the country.

Five years after the repeal of PASPA, Nevada sports betting apps are lagging behind those in other states. That’s a good thing for Nevada bettors, as the appealing parlays on the out-of-state apps are big winners for the sportsbooks. In turn, players lose more often.

Look for the pot to grow for sportsbooks this year. Caesars already released a new app that offers wagering options that are leading to a larger win percentage for sportsbooks. The company will release similar technology for its William Hill app before football season.

The new apps should increase revenue for Caesars. According to the Eilers & Krejcik Gaming consulting company, 56.2% of all sports bets placed over the past three months were with Caesars and William Hill.

The new apps should help boost how much money the company wins from bettors during football season this year. Basketball should also see greater hold when that season begins. More Nevada sportsbooks should be releasing new apps with larger menus. This will likely increase how much they win from bettors.

Football will have a head start on basketball with new wagering options. That could put the gridiron back on top in 2023.

Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
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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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