NCAA Tournament Propels Nevada Sportsbooks to Record March

By Jordan Bianchi

April 30th, 2019 - 8:45am

March Madness was again good to Nevada sportsbooks as a record amount was wagered on basketball in March, well surpassing how much was wagered on the Super Bowl the month before. Nevada’s record month came despite increased competition in legalized sports betting across the United States.

Nevada sportsbooks had handle of $495.1 million in March from wagers on basketball, with a hold percentage of just over 7 percent that equates to $35.2 million in revenue, according to the monthly report issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Last year, Nevada sportsbooks set a then-monthly handle record with $436.6 million collected in March.

Though the NGCB does not differentiate between professional and collegiate basketball when tallying the handle wagered on the sport, it is safe to presume that the vast majority of the amount bet in March was on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

According to a study commissioned by the American Gaming Association and released just before the tournament, March Madness is the most lucrative sports betting event in the United States.

Expansion’s Effect on Nevada Profits

Just like 2018, March Madness was more lucrative to Nevada’s 197 sportsbooks than the Super Bowl. The NCAA Tournament, which sees 68 teams vie for the national championship over three weekends, took in $200 million more than the nearly $146 million wagered on the 2019 Super Bowl on Feb. 3 between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

But while Nevada’s sportsbooks had an increase in handle for the eighth consecutive March Madness, they had a decline in revenue compared to the same timeframe in the previous two years. The $35.2 million in revenue was less than the $38 million in March 2018 and the $41.2 million in March 2017.

Nonetheless, the increased handle was an encouraging sign for Nevada after the first march Madness to take place during a national expansion of legalized sports betting. Seven other states have opened operational sportsbooks since May, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned the federal ban on legalized sports betting, instead giving the power to states to decide whether wagering on sports was permissible. Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia each now have operational sportsbooks, while Arkansas and New York are expected to join before the 2019 NFL season starts in September.

Nevada Likely to Have More Company

There are also bills currently before the governors in Indiana, Iowa and Montana, all of which are expected to be signed into law this spring. And in two dozen more states, lawmakers are debating sports betting legislation.

Overall, Nevada sportsbooks set a record with a total wagering handle of $596.7 million in March. Of that, $495.5 million came solely from basketball with an estimated $346.6 million directly attributed to the NCAA Tournament.
Written By
Jordan Bianchi

Jordan Bianchi writes about sports gambling for His work has appeared in numerous reputable online eGaming and sports publications including Reuters, Yahoo, SB Nation, Sporting News, Autoweek and much more. He’s covered a wide array of sports including... Read More

Jordan Bianchi writes about sports gambling for His work has appeared in numerous reputable online eGaming and sports publications including Reuters, Yahoo, SB Nation, Sporting...

Read More