Boxing’s resurgence in 2017 helped propel Nevada sports books to another monster month in terms of betting activity. According to figures released by state officials, gamblers bet $558.2 million at the books in September, an all-time high for the only state (for now) with legal sports books. Around $30 million of that was bet on the Sept. 16 mega-fight between boxing stars Canelo Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
The previous record for handle in a single month was the $557.0 million bet in November 2015. The Canelo-GGG boxing match followed the early August fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather and the UFC’s Conor McGregor, which drew around $70 million in wagers. Just over $300 million was bet on sports in Nevada that month, about double the handle from August 2016.
The NFL season kicked off in early September. While boxing played its role, football is by far the most popular sport to bet on in the Silver State and thus dictates the industry’s fortunes. Nearly $370 million of the record $558.2 million handle came from football (around 65%), whether it was on the NCAA or the NFL.
Baseball accounted for $142.4 million. The rest of the handle came from parlay cards and pari-mutuel bets, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
As everyone is aware of, the handle isn’t what the Nevada casino industry keeps as its winnings. The 189 sports books in the state won $44.4 million on the $558.2 million handle, which represented a win percentage of nearly 8%. The winnings were also one of the best performances for the books in a single month.
The $44.4 million in revenue was up 8.3% compared to September 2016. Football accounted for a whopping $40.7 million of the revenue (91%).
But what about that Canelo-GGG boxing match that generated a lot of betting activity? Well, the sports books posted a roughly $5 million loss on the fight, the state figures show. What happened?
The highly-anticipated match ended in a controversial draw, prompting a lot of refunds on betting tickets. Furthermore, some gamblers were able to get odds as good as 30-1 betting on the draw. The result was disappointing for Nevada, especially considering the Mayweather-McGregor bout propelled the books to an incredible 1,650% year-over-year increase in winnings for August. The books won nearly $20 million on that fight.
There’s another positive to take away from September despite the judging screw-up in the Canelo-GGG fight. President Trump’s high-stakes feud with the NFL didn’t impact betting.
The beginning of the 2017-18 professional football season wasn’t without some controversy. A spat between Trump and the league reached such intensity that there were some calls to boycott games. The books were immune to the controversy.