Inside Gambling (4/30): Vegas Sports Betting Handle Dropped 76% in March

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Las Vegas has quietly become ground zero for arguably the hardest hit local economy in America due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As governors and mayors across the country ponder the decision of when and how to reopen their respective states, Las Vegas faces immense pressure because of its dependence on tourism and hospitality.

On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board released just how much the sports shutdown impacted the state’s sportsbooks in the month of March. The total amount of money wagered on sports in the state of Nevada was $141.2 million. That total handle represents a 76.3% drop from last March, when the state brought in a record $596.8 million.

Last March, a record $495.1 million was bet on basketball alone in Nevada, thanks to the popularity of March Madness. As sports fans are sadly aware, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was canceled this year due to the coronavirus. Nevada casinos have been shut down for 43 days and counting, while a date to open the once thriving sector has yet to be announced by Governor Steve Sisolak.

Before the crisis, Nevada’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the country. Now food bank lines stretch for miles down Sahara Blvd with the people of Las Vegas hoping and praying that the “Stay At Home For Nevada” mantra will quickly be replaced by Sisolak’s reopening plan of "Nevada’s United Road Map to Recovery.”

“It’s not something as simple as flipping a switch and suddenly everybody is going to come back to Las Vegas," said Sisolak. "The casino and the gaming enterprises will probably come in the third or the fourth phase of what we’re doing here because we’re just not ready yet to handle that type of a volume." 

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