Las Vegas sports books win $170 million in 2012

Feb 12, 2013 3:00 AM

The Nevada Gaming Control Board released statewide gaming revenues from 2012 last Friday and it was a little surprising to see the sports books rake in $170 million in winnings, their second best year ever.

It’s surprising because the books lost $8.17 million in the month of November, most of which came on the first weekend from Week 9 of the NFL, which was deemed the worst NFL Sunday ever.

The $170 million win was a 20.8 percent increase over 2011 and the win percentage (4.93%) was up over 2011 (4.89 %) as well. The key to the big win was an outstanding season in pro and college basketball, as well as faring extremely well in football during September.

Baseball was better than usual with so many of the traditionally good teams being average such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox.

The best news for the state is the sports books set an all-time record for handle, bringing in a staggering $3.45 billion. It was the third consecutive year a record has been broken. What that says is that market is booming.

Sports betting is popular as ever with new Nevada companies like Cantor Gaming and William Hill having helped grow that market. This shows that rather than steal business away from books already existing, they could create business through a few technological advances.

Wagering with ease through the phones is one of the reasons handle is through the roof across the state, but perhaps the biggest explanation for a spike in business is the betting kiosks seen at PT’s Pub and a few other bars on the Golden Gaming route.

There are 190 Nevada sports books listed by NGCB, but that doesn’t account for the 70 kiosks powered by William Hill at the bars. Instead of bettors missing out on a game or halftime wagering because they don’t want to travel to a casino, they can go to their corner bar and get down. They haven’t stolen any business, just allowed a bettor who wouldn’t have been able to get action to find it conveniently.

This business model is what has made William Hill so successful in England. They make themselves visible and accessible in every neighborhood so anyone who wants to bet can do so with ease. We’ve only seen the beginning of what can happen in Nevada and the future looks bright.

As soon as New Jersey gets sports betting, other states will follow, and this business model will be used all over. Can you imagine the sports betting dollars in California or New Jersey? Nevada’s $3.45 billion would seem small in comparison.

Baseball

With Spring Training set to start next week, the LVH released futures odds Monday to win the divisions and home run title. The biggest favorite is the Detroit Tigers at 1-to-5 to win the AL Central followed by the Los Angeles Angels at 1-to-2 to win the AL West.

The Toronto Blue Jays are the 8-to-5 favorite to win the AL East. It’s the first time we haven’t seen the Boston Red Sox (7-1) or New York Yankees (9-5) as the favorite in almost two decades.

Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton and Toronto’s Jose Bautista are 8-to-1 co-favorites to hit the most home runs followed by last year’s Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of Detroit at 9-to-1.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].

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