After impressive betting handle numbers in the end of 2020, this New Year seems to be following that progressive trend. Sports betting revenue for January 2021 have showed better results than the ones from December 2020 as most states reported, not yet including Nevada, Illinois, and Colorado. In general terms, the sports calendar shifted, with the biggest college football bowl games along with college football playoff games. The NFL had Week 17 action during the first week of January along with 12 NFL playoff games. With football winding down, NBA and college basketball saw a higher percentage of the betting handle shifting into the New Year. Even as sports betting shifts away from football, the U.S. has a chance to break a national record for the fourth straight month when more betting reports come in.
STATE-BY-STATE JANUARY 2021 NUMBERS
Based on indicators from specialized website Odds.com, exclusively provided to G&M News, the betting information so far about different states is the following:
New Jersey: As usual, New Jersey leads the pack among states. Although the betting handle for January 2021 was slightly down, the Garden State still saw US$958.7 million wagered, a 3.7% decrease from December’s record month. Despite the betting handle dipping, betting revenue was up 24.4% for January. New Jersey went from US$66.4 million to US$82.6 million in betting revenue. Basketball was the most wagered sport for the nation’s leader. One-third of the betting handle came in on NBA and college basketball in January compared to 21% in football betting.
Indiana: The Hoosier State had an increase in its betting handle. Indiana went from US$313.1 million in December 2020 to US$348.2 million in January, an 11.2% raise. State revenue also grew US$5 million, going from US$24.3 million to US$29.3 million. This territory also had basketball as the preferred sport for punters, as 38.3% of the betting handle came in on NBA and college basketball betting, followed by football with 22.3% of the handle.
West Virginia: The Mountaineer State revealed a significant dip from US$70.1 million to US$50.7 million. A big reason for the 27.7% fall in West Virginia’s betting is the state recording betting numbers weekly compared to a monthly register. This means that the beginning and end of a month’s sports betting numbers could go to a month it’s not supposed to. For example, it received two additional NFL Sundays to its betting revenue, a Sunday in November and Week 17 in January. December recorded the New Year’s Six and College Football Playoff games in December 2020 when it should have gone in January 2021. The difference could be part of the dip, along with fluctuations in the state’s monthly betting handle.
Iowa, Mississippi, and Oregon: Iowa (US$149.5 million), Mississippi (US$67.7 million), and Oregon (US$34.9 million) had record months in its betting handle. Iowa expanded to remote registration, which should help it see more growth in 2021 and beyond. Mississippi continues to have successful months with its betting handle even as the state remains retail only. Oregon also saw its best month since launching sports betting, as it continues to use the lottery system to run its wagering industry.
For a majority of states, online betting is still the go-to. Pennsylvania saw 94% of the bets come in through mobile devices, followed by New Jersey at 92.5%, and Indiana at 85%. With the coronavirus continuing to be a problem across the U.S., it is easier for bettors to wager from home than to head into a sportsbook office with limited capacity.
WHAT’S TO COME IN THE FUTURE
With a few more states needing to report numbers, January 2021 is still on pace to become the fourth-straight month in betting handle growth. Nevada and Illinois should combine for US$1 billion alone, along with Colorado potentially hitting the US$300 million mark for the first time. Nearly US$3.8 billion was wagered in December 2020, and the U.S. could be right around there in the first month of 2021. February 2021 should see a boost in the betting handle thanks to Super Bowl LV being the most wagered NFL Championship game in the sport’s history. Among the states that have reported, roughly US$435 million was bet on the Big Game this year, which will factor in the February reports.
Michigan and Virginia will also see a full month of online sports betting in February, which expands the overall industry. Something to watch will be how the betting handle shifts now that football is over. The Super Bowl could slightly skew numbers, but some states have already reported basketball taking over the most bet sport with limited football action in January. 2021 will also give the gaming sector its best gauge on the escalating industry, with professional leagues back on a normal seasonal schedule. With baseball still on agenda, the industry could begin to see what sports betting in the summer will look like.