State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – Nevada Sports Betting Revenue Soars Despite Revenue Decline
Nevada sportsbooks reported a 24.9% month-on-month handle decline in July amid a quiet period in the sporting calendar. The industry handled $409.7 million, down from $545.4 million the previous month. However, it was still a strong month for the state’s sportsbooks, as revenue increased by 14% compared to June. The hold percentage for sportsbooks reached 8.12%, the highest figure so far this year, after a series of surprise MLB results and Connor McGregor’s first-round loss to Dustin Poirier.
Overall, Nevada’s gambling industry reported its best month of all time. Gaming revenue hit $1.36 billion, making it the fifth consecutive billion-dollar month for the Silver State. Crucially, it was also 33% ahead of pre-pandemic levels in July 2019. Macquarie Research now expects Las Vegas to fully recover to pre-pandemic trading volumes by 2022.
There were several factors behind the strong performance. July had five weekends. The brand new Resorts World Las Vegas casino had its first full month of trading. There were also several high-profile events that drew visitors to Vegas, including that showdown between McGregor and Poirier, the return of Cirque du Soleil, a Bruno Mars residency at the Park MGM and Usher’s residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Visitor Numbers Rebound
The number of visitors to Las Vegas shot up to more than 3.3 million in July. That was a significant increase to the 2.97 million that visited the previous month. It has not quite reached pre-pandemic levels, as 3.7 million visitors went to Vegas in July 2019, but it is an encouraging sign for city leaders.
McCarran International Airport also reported also that it is edging closer pre-pandemic passenger traffic. It said last week it handled 4.15 million arriving and departing people in July, compared with 4.5 million in July 2019. Gov. Steve Sisolak issued an emergency Covid-19 order restoring indoor mask mandates in casinos and other businesses on July 30, so it remains to be seen if the upturn will continue in August.
Competition Begins to Mount
Nevada’s handle was $169 million smaller than New Jersey’s in July. It has also fallen behind Illinois to become the third largest state for sports wagering. That status could soon be in jeopardy amid mounting competition. Nevada is a relatively small state, and it depends heavily upon visitors to inflate its handle. Many come from neighboring California – by far the richest and most populous state – as it has not legalized sports betting. However, some Californians could be inspired to choose Arizona instead when the state’s legal sports wagering industry begins this fall.
Some Californians may find it quicker and easier to visit Arizona to place sports wagers instead of heading to Vegas. Many operators have promised to build “Las Vegas-style” sportsbooks at stadiums and other venues in the state, which is significantly larger than Nevada and has several pro sports teams in Phoenix.
Operators are therefore piling into Arizona, which promises to have one of the most competitive markets in the country. There are 10 available licenses for tribes and 10 for professional sports teams. Those tribes and sports teams can then each team up with a single operator. Sign-ups for Arizona begin on Sunday, and the Arizona Department of Gaming will announce all license winners by the end of business Friday. Most have already been revealed.
Arizona License Winners Celebrate
BetMGM was among the first online sportsbooks to announce it had won a license via its partnerships with the Arizona Cardinals and the Gila River Indian Community. “It is an exciting day here at BetMGM to get the official sign off to launch on day one of sports betting in Arizona,” said chief executive Adam Greenblatt.
“Through our partnerships with Gila River and the Arizona Cardinals, as well as the benefits of being connected to MGM Resorts properties nationwide, we have many exciting things in store for sports fans in Arizona. Arizona sports fans are extremely passionate and we’re confident they’ll enjoy the BetMGM experience. Gila River Hotels & Casinos and the Arizona Cardinals represent the state’s premier casino destinations and sports franchises, making them the ideal partners for us.”
Michael Bidwill, owner of the Arizona Cardinals, added: “This is a tremendous opportunity to build upon our long-standing relationship with Gila River and launch a new one with BetMGM. They are best-in-class partners whose excellence and expertise in this emerging space will provide a new and innovative way to engage and interact with our fans.”
A Momentous Time
FanDuel also announced that it has been successful in its license application after teaming up with the Phoenix Suns, while Penn National’s Barstool Sportsbook has gained a license in tandem with Phoenix Raceway. “As we gear up to bring our best-in-class online and retail offerings to the state of Arizona, this is a momentous time for FanDuel, the Suns, and Suns fans alike,” said Mike Raffensperger, chief marketing officer at FanDuel Group. “We’re excited to open a luxury sportsbook within Phoenix Suns Arena, as the beginning of a long-term and innovative collaboration that will have a lasting impact on the state.”
“This is a watershed moment for the Suns organization and our fans,” added Phoenix Suns president and chief executive Jason Rowley. “FanDuel is the perfect partner as our missions are fully aligned. Simply put, FanDuel is committed to making sports more exciting while the Suns are focused on delivering exciting sports and entertainment and engaging fans at the highest level possible.”
Caesars Sportsbook has teamed up with Arizona Diamondbacks, and it is building a retail sportsbook at Chase Field. New operator MaximBet has partnered with the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and Betfred has a deal with the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort, owned by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. DraftKings Sportsbook is aligned with PGA Tour venue TPC Scottsdale. Unibet has partnered the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, and Barstool Sportsbook has a deal with Phoenix Raceway. Bally’s Corp. has agreed a partnership with the Phoenix Mercury and Australian operator BlueBet is with the Colorado River Indian Tribes, PointsBet has done its deal with the Yavapai-Apache Nation, TwinSpires Sportsbook is with the Tonto Apache Tribe and WynnBET is with the San Carlos Apache Tribe.