Updated April 25, 2019 - 1:06 pm
The spread of legal sports betting across the country hasn’t slowed its growth in Nevada.
The state’s sportsbooks set all-time records in March for basketball (college and pro) betting handle, at $495.1 million, and overall wagering handle, at $596.7 million.
An estimated $346.6 million was wagered on the NCAA Tournament in March. That’s up more than $40 million from last year and is $200 million more than February’s Super Bowl LIII handle of $145.9 million.
The basketball numbers aren’t separated into college and the NBA, but based on feedback from the books, 70 percent of the March handle is generated from the NCAA Tournament, according to Gaming Control Board senior research analyst Michael Lawton.
It’s the eighth consecutive year that Nevada’s March basketball handle has increased.
“The tournament as a whole gets bigger and bigger every year and the in-game and mobile wagering in Nevada has also helped,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “And everything we have to offer in Nevada as a whole, from rooms to entertainment to beautiful race and sportsbooks. This has become the destination for the college basketball tournament.
“With the parties and promotions surrounding the tournament, there are probably more guests who contact me to come out and reserve seats that I see every year for the tournament than I do for the Super Bowl.”
The state’s 197 books won $35.2 million on basketball in March. That’s down from $38 million in March 2018 and from a record win of $41.2 million in March 2017.
“I was very happy with our March numbers for both handle and win,” CG Technology sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso said. “What surprised me was that the handle was up a click over last year because, like everybody else, I’m wondering if (the spread of legal sports betting) will catch up with Nevada at some point.”
Besides the increase in in-play and mobile wagering, DiTommaso said increased media coverage of sports betting also has helped boost the handle.
“Plus the tournament was really wide open, when you take Duke out of the mix,” he said.
Nevada books won $32.5 million overall in March, when it lost $12.2 million on football.