On the ground

Inside the battle for the American sports betting market

By Sean Chaffin

March is a huge month in the US sports betting market. The annual college basketball tournament, known as March Madness, is a testament to the willingness of Americans to wager – legally or otherwise.


he American Gaming Association estimated more than $8.5 billion was wagered on the month-long March Madness tournament. That included $4.6 billion on 149 million bracket contests, by more than 40 million people. Beyond that, 18 million

more Americans were expected to place $3.9 billion in bets at a sportsbook, online, with a bookie, or a friend. In New Jersey, which led the fight to overturn the country’s

virtual ban on sports betting outside the state of Nevada, the state saw $100 million wagered on the tournament alone. That accounts only through legal sportsbooks. As of early May, eight states had legalised sports betting

(Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, MIssissippi). Five more (Arkansas, Oregon, New York, Montana, Indiana) and Washington D.C. had approved sports betting and were expected to come online soon. Numerous others had bills circulating and were considering the issue – and it’s a good bet regulation will be legalised in another state by the time this is printed. May marked the one-year anniversary since the Supreme

Court’s decision, and in that time the pace of change in the industry has been rapid. How has this affected traditional players in the industry? What are some new players to look out for? How are things playing out in Nevada? Casino International looks to answer some of those questions.

Sports Betting in the Silver State

While legal sports betting continues to grow around the country, Nevada remains the mecca of sports betting in the US. Even moreso, that specifically singles out Las Vegas. The city’s sportsbooks remain immensely popular especially during events like the Super Bowl and March Madness. One might think with wagering now allowed in other

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states, Nevada totals may have dipped a bit. At least for now, that doesn’t seem to be the case and the entire pie seems to be growing. In 2018, the state brought in $5 billion in wagers – topping the previous record of $4.87 billion set in 2017. There hasn’t been an annual drop in total wagered in the state since 2009. In Nevada, there are four approved sportsbook operating platform vendors: IGT, Stadium Technology, CG Technology, and William Hill. The latter also serves to manage some books for properties throughout the state. Despite new entries into the market and casinos taking more of a focus on their own sportsbooks, these four platforms still remain popular among properties. While those revenue numbers may look nice, sports betting win still accounted for less than 3 per cent of total casino win in the state. While definitive statistics aren’t available on individual

sportsbook management and software, a look at William Hill might offer some insight into where traditional players stand in the state. The company didn’t offer comments or statistics for this article, but the Nevada Gaming Control Board offered some input on where things have been heading. Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst with the board,

notes that in 2013 William Hill operated about 100 locations and that had increased to 116 by 2018. That may not be a huge increase, but comes as some properties like the D Las Vegas (see below) transition to running their own books. “They appear to be expanding their footprint,” Lawton says

of William Hill. “For every D, there are more locations that try to partner up with them. As far as sports betting in general in Nevada, we’re doing pretty damn well.”

A Look at Other Operators

Beyond William Hill, other operators and software companies have been able to grow thanks to the new sports

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