March Madness dished Nevada casinos a strong monthly revenue performance, as betting on the men’s NCAA basketball tournament reached new highs and provided sportsbooks with a record take.
Statewide, Nevada’s casinos collected $991 million in gaming win during March, a 7.5 percent increase on the same month in 2016. The Strip saw its bottom line for gambling increase over eight percent, and the red hot downtown Las Vegas area continued its winning streak with a nearly 23 percent gain.
Across the city and state, casinos have their sportsbooks to thank for their March bounty.
A record $439.5 million was bet on college and NBA basketball during the month, with the vast majority likely on the NCAA games. The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Gaming Revenue Report doesn’t breakdown the two categories.
Of the $439.5 million bet, the books kept over $41 million, also a record for basketball in March.
With no clear favorite throughout much of the tournament, bettors flocked to the Silver State to place their wagers. The American Gaming Association estimated that a total of $10.4 billion was bet on the tournament, with just a fraction placed legally in the Silver State.
The UNC Tar Heels topped Gonzaga in early April to win the program’s sixth national title. Sportsbooks had the two #1 seeds at even money before tipoff.
Win One for the Books
March Madness was a huge score for oddsmakers after what’s been a rather trying 12 months.
It was a year ago that the Villanova Wildcats upset UNC on a three-point buzzer beater to win the NCAA tournament. The last-second shot gave the Catholic university its first title since 1985.
Then there was the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James’ seemingly implausible upset over the Golden State Warriors, a team that had just set the regular season record for total wins. The NBA title delivered Cleveland its first major championship in 52 years.
Not to be outdone, the Chicago Cubs ended their own title drought by claiming their first World Series since 1908, ironically over the Cleveland Indians. Always one of the most popular teams in terms of preseason futures betting, the Cubbies’ championship was a blow to sportsbooks.
Enter 2017, and the bad streak for oddsmakers continued. Undefeated Alabama, holding a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter of the NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship, collapsed against Clemson and allowed the Tigers to score 21 unanswered.
And then Tom Brady and the Patriots, down 28-3 in the third quarter of the Super Bowl, pulled off its own miraculous run to win 34-28 in overtime. In-game betting on the Patriots cost books dearly, despite New England entering the game as the favorite.
“In the long run, it does even out,” Mirage sportsbook manager Jeff Stoneback toldESPN.
Table Games Surge
In addition to the sportsbooks and March Madness, Nevada casinos are thanking their tables for helping grow business. Table games were up 9.8 percent statewide, with blackjack leading the way with a win of $112.7 million, a 12 percent increase.
All around, gaming was strong in March, giving state officials much to celebrate.
“We almost did a billion dollars,” Nevada Gaming Control Board Analyst Michael Lawton told theLas Vegas Sun.