Baseball Sports Betting Tops $1 Billion at Nevada Sportsbooks in 2016

Posted on: December 7, 2016, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: December 7, 2016, 12:40h.

baseball sports betting record MLB
The World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians brought a Major League Baseball sports betting record year to a close last month. (Image: USA TODAY Sports, Getty Images/

The Major League Baseball sports betting market has much to celebrate this holiday season, as the latest numbers from the Nevada Gaming Control Board show the sport received more wagers in 2016 than any other year in Silver State history.

In total, more than $1 billion was bet on MLB games through October of 2016. A little icing on the cake will be added when the numbers for November’s games six and seven of the storied World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians are included.

Baseball is the third-most bet upon sport in Nevada behind football and basketball. In 2015, a record total of $4.2 billion was wagered across all sports at Nevada sportsbooks.

Bigger Bets, Lower Wins

Though the headline reads nice for MLB and the health of the professional baseball league, it doesn’t necessarily translate into higher earnings for oddsmakers. In fact, gaming win is down in 2016 for the so-called experts.

In 2015, sportsbooks held 4.4 percent of their total baseball bets leading to a win of roughly $39 million. In 2016, however, their slugging percentage is down.

Through October, Vegas books are retaining 2.9 percent of baseball bets for a little more than a $30 million total win. The last two games of the epic Cubs and Indians World Series, which saw some of the highest television viewership in decades, isn’t expected to help that win rate.

That’s because the majority of the bets were placed on the Cubbies. Books gladly accepted the wagers, as Chicago was down 3-1 in the series, and the Cubs hadn’t won the Fall Classic since 1908.

The upset, of course, was bad for Vegas. “We still need the Indians,” Mirage sportsbook boss Jeff Stoneback told ABC News before game seven.

Go, PASPA, Go!

It’s approaching two years since MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said America’s viewpoint on gambling has changed, and that “it’s important for there to be a conversation between me and the owners about what our institutional position will be.”

The NBA and NHL have taken steps to embrace sports betting, or at the very least, Las Vegas.

The Vegas Golden Knights will commence play in the NHL at the beginning of the 2017/18 season, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly stated his belief that it’s time to allow betting on basketball games outside of just Nevada.

Manfred has more recently said that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 needs a refresh or repeal. PASPA banned sports betting on the federal level, with exceptions carved out for Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware since those states had some sort of sports wagering at the time.

There is much speculation on what the future holds for sports betting in the US. The vast majority of bets are placed illegally, and that’s something that concerns those on both sides of the sports betting issue.

The American Gaming Association estimates $400 billion is wagered illegally through underground and offshore bookies each year in the US alone.