LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In the state of Nevada, sports betting is big business. Not only for local sportsbooks, but for the state itself. Last year alone, Nevada collected more than $27 million in tax revenue from sports betting.
But after COVID-19 canceled every major sport for months and shut down all the sportsbooks in Nevada, some are worried about the price of this pandemic.
But, the return of exciting sporting events like this Monday night match up between the Raiders and Saints are bringing the bettors back in big numbers.
After four miserable months without anything athletic, sports are back and so are the sports bettors.
"We’ve been missing football. America loves football. They love betting football and Sunday proved that," said Jay Kornegay, Vice President of Superbook Operations at the world-famous Westgate.
Part of Kornegay's job is breaking down sports betting trends.
"The numbers proved to be very comparable to last year, which is really surprising, even though a lot of that has shifted to the mobile side," said Kornegay.
He says the first Sunday of football season capped a big comeback for the Las Vegas sportsbooks.
"When we were shut down, which is something we’ve never had to do before, we reopened our betting app on May 7. We saw an increase in [betting on] golf by 600%. NASCAR and the U.F.C. increased almost 500%. So that carried us into the month of August when we started up with N.H.L and the N.B.A. playoffs and baseball was back.
Kornegay admits fewer people have been placing bets in person.
"That’s to be expected because we can only operate at 50%," said Kornegay.
But, betting on the Westgate app has proved to be a popular alternative, up 21% compared to last year.
"We’ve seen a steady incline in mobile waging over the last four or five years, but certainly a spike in the last couple of months as a lot of people prefer to wager at home, in the convenience of their home, and that makes sense," said Kornegay.
Of all the sports you can wager on at the Westgate, Jay says football is America's favorite. He's already seeing a lot of support for the new team in town, and he expects the silver and black to be a staple at local sportsbooks this season, and many more to come.
"We expect that with the Raiders, especially because it’s football and the NFL. It’s probably going to be even more so if they have success like the Knights did. I can only imagine if the Raiders were to make a run to the playoffs or maybe even the big Super Bowl, the type of bets that we would see and the amount of bets that we would see and the liability that would be attached to that," said Kornegay with a smile.
During week 1 of the NFL season, Kornegay says the Raiders-Panthers game was one of the most popular games to bet on. And if the Raiders keep winning, he expects them to be the most popular team in town, for more reasons than one.