Wagers, bettor losses set record

ByDavid Purdum ESPN logo
Friday, January 30, 2015

Nevada sports bettors wagered more -- and lost more -- than ever in 2014.

The state's 187 sportsbooks won $227.04 million off of the $3.9 billion wagered on sports in 2014. Both amounts are all-time records, according to Nevada Gaming Control.

Football, per usual, carried the load. The sportsbooks won $113.73 million on college and pro football in 2014, a giant 40.73 percent increase from 2013. Overall, $1.74 billion was bet on football in 2014, $12 million more than in 2013. Nevada Gaming Control does not track pro and college football separately, but sportsbook managers estimate the NFL accounts for around 55-60 percent of their annual football handle.

The year got off to a big start, with the books winning a record $19.6 million on Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. It continued into this season. From September through December, the books are up $98.16 million on football.

In comparison, the books won $54.2 million on basketball and $21.2 million on baseball in 2014. Both numbers were down, 8.36 percent and 26.88 percent, respectively, from 2013.

The increase in sportsbooks offering online apps for wagering certainly played a role in the increase, according to Nevada Gaming Control senior research analyst Michael Lawton. Sportsbook operator CG Technology said 69 percent of bets were placed on its app in 2014. In addition to CG Technology, William Hill, Boyd Gaming and the South Point casino also offer mobile sports wagering.

"[Sports] betting volumes have set records in five consecutive years and win totals have set records in three consecutive years." Lawton said. "This year without a doubt, sports betting was the growth story."

Despite the growth, sports betting still has a long way to go to catch the other revenue-producing casino games. Nevada casinos won $1.06 billion on blackjack and $2.62 billion on penny slots in 2014.

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