Nevada handle rises – but could be better

Nevada managed to post a record sports betting handle in October even as the state was being overtaken by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nevada’s handle of $660m for the month of October overhauled the record set last November of $614m.

Revenue for the month hit $42.4m representing a hold percentage of 6.4%.

Football was the big draw in October, of course. Handle hit $441m up from $336m last year. Baseball was also up over 33% to $111m.

The key metric for sports betting states is the percentage of mobile handle and in this area Nevada is falling behind market leaders New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In October the percentage of wagers made over mobile stood at just over 57%. This is far behind the levels being registered in competing states. 

In New Jersey, in comparison, mobile wagering account for 95% of the bets placed there.

Remote debate

In order for Nevada to catch up with some of the newer sports betting states, it has been argued it needs to allow remote registration.

As it stands, even at the height of the pandemic, Nevada still requires for bettors to register in-person.

A recent move by the Nevada Gaming Control Board to at least debate the potential for remote registration was stymied. A date is yet to be set for the necessary committee meeting to discuss the issue.

Nevada is certainly falling behind when it comes to its gaming friendliness. As measured by the Wedge Index, it is now ninth and in danger of falling out fo the top 10 as and when Michigan opens up.

The opposing view

This week, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak order more restrictions on land-based casinos in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

Whether that will alter the pace of the discussions regarding remote registration is hard to work out.

What is known is that ‘local’ operators such as Red Rock – which owns Station Casinos – are likely to remain opposed. 

The big question is whether William Hill are still in the opposition camp. Potentially, the new Caesars ownership might change opinions.

The further casino closures have caused analysts to downgrade gaming stocks. 

Morgan Stanley said on Wednesday that it was moving is recommendation on Caesars down to hold on the basis of the closures not just in Nevada but also Illinois and Michigan.

“While CZR has attractive long-term opportunities in sports-betting/online-gambling and transaction synergies, we see near-term earnings risk from rising COVID-related restrictions exacerbated by high leverage,” noted analyst Thomas Allen.


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