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March wagers down 76% at Nevada sportsbooks

29th April, 15:47

Nevada sportsbooks saw the amount wagered in March plummet 76% year-over-year as the coronavirus pandemic halted sports midway through what is typically one Las Vegas' most lucrative months.

Approximately $141.2 million was bet at the state's sportsbooks in March, according to revenue numbers released Wednesday by Nevada Gaming Control. It's the smallest amount wagered in the month of March since 1993 and down sharply from last March, when a record $596.7 million was bet.

Nevada sportsbooks reported a $1.45 million net win this March. It's the books' smallest win in March since 1993 and down 95.3% from last March. In the previous 10 years, the state's sportsbooks have averaged a $19.2 million win in March.

The decreases in net win and betting handle are sharp but expected. Essentially all major professional sports shut down in mid-March. The NBA suspended its season March 11, and the NHL followed suit the next day. College basketball conference tournaments stopped the same week, and the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, the largest betting event in the United States, was eventually canceled, too. In a matter of days, sportsbooks went from one of their busiest weeks to the slowest time in the industry's history.

Other states now offering sports betting, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, also reported significant decreases in betting handle and revenue in March.

With the Nevada's casinos ordered closed by Gov. Steve Sisolak, some sportsbooks stopped taking bets altogether, while others kept their mobile betting apps available. Roughly 63% of the betting handle was placed online in Nevada during March.

Sportsbooks still operating have turned to a handful of obscure sporting events that are taking place internationally, like Russian table tennis and soccer in Belarus and Nicaragua. Nevada Gaming Control also has authorized sportsbooks to increase their offerings on esports, from NASCAR's iRacing series to tournaments involving games like Call of Duty and Counter Strike.

In July 1989, $54.9 million was bet at Nevada sportsbooks, the lowest amount of any month since gaming control began releasing monthly revenue numbers. April 2020 could challenge that dubious mark.

Gaming win in Nevada overall was down 57% year over year in March. "Obviously we are facing huge challenges, however I am confident that the gaming industry will eventually rebound," Michael Lawton, senior research analyst, for Nevada Gaming Control, told ESPN. "The industry and board have incredible leadership and they are working together on formulating plans to re-open and then we can begin the process of getting back to business."

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