Betting’s Summer Slowdown May Bounce on the Olympic Bump
While changes in betting handles were mixed across the nation, LegalSportsReport.com notes 14 states and Washington DC saw money wagered on sports betting increase in May.
New Jersey continued its sports betting dominance, reporting $814.2 million in sports betting handle for the month of May, a nearly 9% increase from April’s total of $747 million. Sports wagering gross revenue, reflecting the difference between the amount of money players wager minus the amount that they win, was $52.9 million.
Nevada’s $477.2 million handle was up 4.9% from the $454.7 million reported in the previous month. The combined $931.9 million from April and May 2021 compares to, just $56.3 million in the same period last year when COVID-19 strangled operations at almost all major sports organizations.
Virginia was one of the states where sports betting handle decreased from the previous month, but it became the 11th state to clear $1 billion in total handle, with the Virginia Lottery reporting nearly $227 million in wagers were accepted by the commonwealth’s seven mobile operators in May.
Though the Illinois Gaming Board reported a betting handle of $507.3 million for May, 5.6% lower than April’s total of nearly $537.2 million, it also marked the fifth consecutive month bettors in Illinois wagered more than a half-billion dollars on sporting events.
With the addition of Illinois, the final state to disclose their total wagers each month, SportsHandle.com notes the national handle surpassed $3.699 billion for the month and $20 billion through 2021 thus far ― compared to the $21.5 billion for all of 2020.
While action has slowed a bit across the US gambling market, that is indicative of its cyclical nature, rising and falling with the beginning and conclusion of the NFL football season (which begins in September and ends in February), as well as the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament that starts in the month following the Super Bowl. Summertime is typically the slower part of the year for sports fans, particularly the July and August period.
However, the July-August period may be a bit more lucrative than usual for betting operators this year as the 32nd Olympiad will light the torch in less than two weeks – a year later than scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time the Summer Olympics were held, back in 2016, US sports gambling was still heavily regulated and largely confined to Nevada’s sportsbooks. At that time, the state’s “other” category, including the Olympics, golf, boxing, MMA, and other relatively less popular sports, saw a 65% jump YoY for August. While the monthly handle for that category was less $18 million altogether, the ubiquity of mobile betting apps and legal, operational sports betting across 21 US states could make the Olympics’ impact much more significant this time around.
Arizona, Ohio, Maryland Lead State Hopefuls
Several significant state markets are on deck to expand US sports betting by the fall.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed sports betting into law in 2021 after state representatives approved a bill legalizing it. Per SportsHandle.com, there could be up to 40 online sportsbooks battling it out in the state when online sports betting rolls out on September 9, the same day as opening night of the NFL regular season.
With 20 sports betting licenses to be available, Arizona’s second draft of sports betting rules, established on July 2, suggested that two mobile operators per gambling license would be available for online betting operators to acquire. As the bill reads: “there can be one sports wagering system, and up to two platforms”.
ArizonaCasinos.com projects that the state at full maturity could produce $3 billion in annual handle, $252 million in annual revenue and, using the minimum tax rate of 8% outlined in Arizona’s bill, more than $20 million in yearly tax revenue for the state General Fund.
Maryland’s 2021 sports betting law, signed by Governor Larry Hogan in May will allow up to 60 online and 30 retail sportsbooks statewide. As Action network writes, professional sports franchises will join the state’s six commercial casinos as well as off-track betting facilities and a myriad of other business interests that will be permitted to apply for sportsbook licenses.
MarylandSharp.com sports betting revenue analyst Geoff Fisk projects that Maryland’s sports betting market, at full maturity, could bring in more than $217 million annually, and yield $32.55 million in tax revenue.
In Ohio, the state Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill legalizing sports gambling, which now awaits a house vote after their summer break. Even with that delay, language in the bill calls for sports betting to begin sometime in 2022.
Per WKSU, the bill creates up to 25 Type A licenses for casinos and racinos, which can partner with mobile apps, and up to 33 Type B licenses for brick & mortar sportsbooks in counties with over 100,000 residents. Those would cost $1 million each and revenue from sports gambling would be taxed at 10%.