State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – Nevada Sports Betting Handle Increases 14.2% in June
Nevada sportsbooks reported a 14.2% month-on-month handle increase for June as Las Vegas hosted its first major trade show since the pandemic began. The handle increased from $477.2 million in May to $554.8 million in June. That is encouraging for Nevada operators, as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and various other states saw their handles decline due to a dearth of sporting action in June.
It reflects a continued improvement in visitor numbers to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported 2.971 million visitors in June, which represented a 3.2% increase on the previous month. It was also up 178.9% on the previous year. June saw thousands flock to the city to attend World of Concrete, while Resorts World Las Vegas was the first major casino opening on the Strip in a decade. McCarran International Airport reported 3.8 million passengers arriving and departing.
Sports betting revenue increased 8% compared to May, reaching $29.2 million, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s latest report. Mobile sports betting accounted for just 57.7% of wagers, reiterating how important tourism is to the state. Baseball was the most popular sport among bettors in Nevada during June, accounting for $226.2 million, while basketball bets totalled $194 million. Hockey was third with $44 million as the Vegas Golden Knights went all the way to the Stanley Cup semi-finals.
A Real Life Action Thriller
Nevada casinos took more than $1 billion in revenue for the fourth straight month in June, and they came close to breaking the all-time record. The state’s sports betting industry is gathering momentum, but it still lags well behind New Jersey, which reported a handle of $766.8 million and revenue of $71.3 million in June. Yet it was significantly ahead of Pennsylvania, which handled $420.2 million, but held $42.5 million.
Visitor numbers to Las Vegas are still 17.6% below the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, but casinos are performing better. The total win for June was $1.19 billion, which is ahead of the $1.04 billion in 2019. “Every market increased over June 2019 with the exception of the Las Vegas Strip,” said Michael Lawton, senior analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, who added that the $3.46 billion total in April, May and June amounted to the largest gaming win figure in a calendar quarter in state history, beating a previous record set in the final three months of 2006.
However, there are fears that the momentum could be lost due to the proliferation of the Covid-19 delta variant. A spike in cases has led to a fresh mandate for all Las Vegas casino visitors to wear masks. This requirement will be reinstated at the start of August.
“It feels like we’re in the midst of a real-life action thriller,” said Alan Feldman, a former casino executive who is now a fellow at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Will the delta variant spread so fast that further restrictions have to be implemented? We’ll just have to see if there is to be further damage to the state’s economy before we can comfortably say that we’re out of the woods.”
Colorado Sees Revenue Increase
Colorado reported a 7.7% sports betting handle decline for June, following in the footsteps of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. Handle fell from just under $249 million in May to $229.8 million in June. However, revenue increased 30.4% month-on-month, from $15.1 million in May to $19.7 million in June, according to the latest report from the state.
The Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche both crashed out of the playoffs in the second round, which could help explain why bettors in the state had a bad month. Basketball was the most popular sport among bettors, accounting for $74.9 million of the handle, followed by baseball at $54.6 million, soccer at $12.8 million, tennis at $12.3 million, and ice hockey at $10.7 million. Table tennis continues to have a cult following in the state, with a handle of $8.7 million in June.
Colorado currently has the sixth largest handle of all the states that have reported their figures for June. It trails New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana, it is ahead of Tennessee, Iowa and several smaller states. Illinois, the second largest state for sports betting, and Virginia have not yet released June figures, so Colorado is expected to drop to eighth.
PointsBet Building Up a War Chest
Australian operator PointsBet aims to raise $300 million to fund a US expansion. The operator is already live in six states – Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Indiana, Colorado and Iowa – but it plans to increase that figure to 19 states plus several Canadian provinces, by the end of 2022. PointsBet is unique in the US market, because it offers traditional fixed-odds betting alongside sports spread betting, which it refers to as PointsBetting. This is akin to financial spread betting, whereby you buy or sell at various prices, and your profit or loss is fluid, determined by how right or wrong you are.
“In each state we’re live, we’re either the fourth or fifth operator in terms of handle,” said chief executive Sam Swanell on a fourth-quarter conference call this week. “We will continue to invest to remain a top-five operator. We’ve established the long-term strategic foundations to ensure we’re a market leader in North America.”
That is interesting to hear. PointsBet shares a master license with FanDuel in New Jersey, so it is often overshadowed when it is time to analyze monthly handle reports. The Garden State does not break down how the handle is divided among each operator on a particular master license, and it is always assumed that FanDuel accounts for the bulk of the handle and revenue on the Meadowlands license, but PointsBet is seemingly flying under the radar and enjoying a strong performance.
It will issue 21.5 million new shares at A$10 per share, and launch an accelerated entitlement offer issuing 23.1 million new shares at A$8 per share. Both Goldman Sachs and MST Financial are involved in the capital raise. The funds will be used for customer acquisition and marketing in North America, developing technology, paying market access fees, recruiting talent and shoring up the firm’s balance sheet.