The king of sports betting is facing more competition every month.

The latest evidence arrived Friday, in a news release by the American Gaming Association. For the first time ever, wagers in new legal sports betting markets in January exceeded those in Nevada.

Sara Slane, AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs, elaborated in the press release:

“For the first time in the history of U.S. gaming, Nevada’s sports betting handle has been eclipsed by the rest of the country. The demand for legal sports betting is abundantly clear, with the majority of legal wagers now being placed in markets that didn’t even exist a year ago. What’s more, this strong consumer appetite for legal sports betting is matched by action from state legislatures and sovereign tribal nations. Two-thirds of jurisdictions have now taken steps to legalize sports betting, marking an unprecedented amount of growth for this new sector in just ten months.”

PA ranked 4th in sports betting in January

Pennsylvania brought in $32 million in sports betting handle in January, ranking it fourth among sports betting states. But that total, combined with the other new sports betting states, helped push their combined handle ahead of Nevada, giving the new markets a slight majority of 50.2 percent. The other states collecting wagers in January were:

  • New Jersey
  • Mississippi
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia
  • Delaware
Credit: American Gaming Association

Pennsylvania’s future already visible in NJ

It’s expected that sports betting apps won’t arrive in Pennsylvania until July. But a quick glimpse at neighboring New Jersey provides a good idea of what to expect.

According to Legal Sports Report, New Jersey’s sportsbook operators took in $385 million in wagers in January, more than 10 times Pennsylvania’s total.

So what’s the difference?

Gamblers in New Jersey already have access to online sports betting, which accounted for about 80 percent of the state’s total sports betting handle. Clearly, the ease and accessibility of mobile sports betting lead to a natural increase in revenues for the sportsbooks.

Thus, New Jersey’s success is good news for its next-door neighbors. If you applied similar projections in Pennsylvania, estimating that online betting might be four times the retail handle, the Keystone State might have topped $150 million or more in January wagers. This, in a month in which sports betting activity often slows too.

March Madness should bump PA profits

With sports betting options expanding, it’s reasonable to expect that the newly-minted sports betting states could continue to exceed Nevada’s handle in the months ahead.

In Pennsylvania, total sports betting handle nearly doubled from December to January. Handle rose from $16.17 million to $32 million. That robust growth should continue. March features one of the most popular events for sports bettors, the men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Last year, the American Gaming Association released a report estimating that Americans bet more than $10 billion on the tournament. Only 3 percent of that amount was legally wagered in Las Vegas.

This year, expanded sports betting will give Pennsylvanians many more outlets to legally bet right in their home state.

That should produce record numbers for their PA casinos.