Nevada’s sports betting economy enjoyed its most profitable year on record in 2017, according to the latest statistics from the state’s Gaming Commission.
Accompanying December 2017’s gaming results, the sports betting summary showed that bookmakers across Nevada banked $248.8 million, only $3 million more than their counterparts in New Jersey. As well as being the fifth consecutive year revenue topped the $200 million mark, that latest haul is a record. The previous high was set back in 2015 when the odds makers raked in $231.7 million.
Looking at the numbers, basketball was the hottest sport for Nevada punters, with $87.4 million win. Next in terms of popularity was football, followed by baseball, parlay betting and then any other wagers offered by the state’s sportsbooks. Thanks to the latest revenue high, experts at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) have calculated that $81.9 billion has been bet on sport in the state since 1984.
Across the betting spectrum, the upswing in sports betting revenue was matched by a jump in casino rake. With year-on-year revenue to December 31 up by 59%, casino income hit $1.6 billion in 2017. Thanks to that performance, Nevada’s total gambling revenue reached a new record of $26.2 billion.
For those involved in Nevada’s betting industry, the recent reports will be welcome news. Following the global economic downturn in 2008, casinos across the state suffered. With consumers cutting their spending on leisure pursuits, Las Vegas and its surrounding betting hubs saw revenue decline. With economies starting to recover both in the US and around the world, trade has since started to increase. This increase is complemented by the recent news that Nevada's gaming board appointed their first ever chairwoman.
Data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) showed that tourism increased to record levels. Following a two-year upturn, 42.9 million visitors travelled to Sin City in 2016. Although the figures dipped slightly in 2017, spending figures increased across the board, which suggests that Nevada is now out of its slump and ready to enjoy more record-breaking years.
With the Silver State celebrating another profitable 2017, others will now be hoping for regulatory changes in 2018. As it stands, only four states in the US are allowed to offer sports betting. However, following a long-running court battle, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is on the cusp of overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
First enacted in 1992, the federal law made it illegal for states other than Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon to offer sports betting. However, alongside New Jersey’s Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Christie has been fighting back against the law since 2011.
After New Jersey was blocked from implementing its own sports betting bill, Christie started the long processes of challenging the US federal system. Despite losing a string of court battles, the Garden State Governor was granted a reprieve in 2017. Essentially arguing that the US Constitution protects states from being forced to accept federal law, Christie appears to have found sympathy among Supreme Court judges.
Although a decision isn’t expected until the spring, Christie’s legal team made the case that New Jersey can’t be commandeered into accepting a federal law when there is a desire to enact a state law. The case strikes at the heart of the federalism debate that’s characterised a number of high-profile legal cases in the US over the past few decades.
Should the judges rule in favour of Christie and preserve the sanctity of the Tenth Amendment, it would be a seminal moment for sports betting in the US. With provisions already in place to regulate the industry, New Jersey would be the first state to offer legal sports betting. Once that happens, others have already signalled that they would quickly do the same. A comprehensive bill has already been proposed.
According to Global Market Advisors (GMA), regulated sports betting in the country could be worth up to $9 billion. While the blueprint for how it would proliferate is yet to be drawn up, the experts believe it could generate annual wagers of between $29.2 billion and $138 billion. If Nevada’s recent run of results is any indication of what could happen, then politicians and sports bettors alike will be hoping that Christie’s longshot comes in later this year.