Want to overcome the Feburary handle swoon? Host a Super Bowl!
The Arizona Department of Gaming released long-awaited state sports wagering figures for February on Wednesday, and Glendale playing host to Super Bowl LVII provided plenty of betting action in the desert as handle reached close to $609.3 million. It was the first time the NFL held a Super Bowl in a state where sports betting was legal.
The matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles was one for the ages, with the Chiefs rallying for a 38-35 victory and scoring the game-winning points with eight seconds to play. Though the Arizona Department of Gaming did not provide any specific breakouts related to the Super Bowl, certain operators were able to make history. FanDuel had its best Arizona mobile handle at $218.9 million, second in state history only to DraftKings‘ $230.2 million in March 2022.
It also provided a rarity in the industry space with a month-over-month increase in handle from January to February. Arizona finished sixth nationally among 29 states for February handle, but it was the only one in the top 10 to get a bump from January at 3.1%. By comparison, Virginia had the softest decline at 15.5%.
|State||February 2023 Handle||January 2023 Handle||Percent Change|
The increased handle did not completely translate to increased operator revenue, as the $35.4 million in gross revenue was down 25.4% compared to January. It created a 5.8% hold that was the fourth-lowest of 29 states with commercial wagering. Promotional spend totaled $17.8 million, up 3.4% from January and an increase of only 1.2% from February 2022.
When including other deductions and sportsbooks that finished with a zero adjusted gross revenue, the state was eligible to tax nearly $16.2 million — resulting in more than $1.6 million worth of tax receipts. In the first two months of 2023, handle totaled $1.2 billion — up 13.8% compared to last year — while revenue surged 27.7% to nearly $82.9 million.
Desert Diamond competing with the big boys
FINAL February 2023 Top 10 #SportsBetting handle by state:
1 New York $1.47B
2 Illinois $875.4M
3 New Jersey $847.4M
4 Nevada $659.4M
5 Ohio $639.8M
6 ARIZONA $609.3M <-NEW
7 Pennsylvania $599.5M
8 Virginia $433.8M
9 Colorado $425.1M
10 Michigan $357.2M#GamblingTwitter
— Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73) May 10, 2023
The top four handle spots for February were occupied by the usual suspects — FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook, but local outfit Desert Diamond rounded out the top five in stunning fashion with close to $43.7 million in accepted wagers. It came within $10 million of Caesars and more than doubled its previous high of $20 million set in January.
Impressively, Desert Diamond did so without a lavish outlay for promotional spend — $192,009 for the month. That was down 80% from January, but it is also uncertain whether January promotions were tied to the Super Bowl to contribute to the decline. Bettors made the most of their plays with Desert Diamond, limiting the book to a 0.7% hold and just over $300,000 in gross revenue, after it had racked up more than $4 million combined in December and January.
FanDuel’s online handle of $218.9 million accounted for 35.9% of all wagers placed in the Grand Canyon State. The bettor-friendly outcome of the Super Bowl likely contributed to the end of FanDuel’s seven-month run of double-digit holds, as the online titan had a more pedestrian 7.2% win rate to claim $15.7 million in gross revenue. Its $6.5 million in promotional spend was a five-fold increase compared to 2022, but handle spiked 53.7% year over year and climbed 12% from January.
DraftKings’ year-over-year handle surged 22.7% to $161.5 million, but FanDuel was able to siphon bettors from all three of its closest competitors. Month-over-month handle dipped for DraftKings as well as BetMGM and Caesars. Compared to January, the decline was 5.8% for DraftKings, 10.4% for Caesars, and 10.1% for BetMGM.
DraftKings did enjoy a solid month with close to $11.6 million in gross revenue, as its hold jumped more than two percentage points from January to 7.2%. In contrast, BetMGM’s revenue plummeted 44.6% to $5.2 million, as its hold shed more than four points, and Caesars’ revenue dipped 52.9% to $1.2 million on a paltry 2.3% win rate.
Overall, only six of 17 mobile operators in the state finished with positive AGR that was eligible for taxation. Caesars was the only one of those 11 operators not to pay taxes that had more than $1 million in adjusted gross revenue prior to promotional deductions.
Online wagering was the way to play
Arizona’s mobile handle percentage was consistent despite hosting the Super Bowl, with online wagering accounting for 99.3% of the total at $604.9 million. Retail handle was close to $4.4 million, up 29.7% versus 2022 but also down 25% compared to January. In-person gross revenue was close to $395,000, providing a 9.1% hold that was the highest since a 13.9% win rate last September.
Interestingly, the BetMGM retail sportsbook, which is in a detached area from the physical stadium footprint of State Farm Stadium, accepted close to $1.3 million in wagers in February. That was down 5.5% from January, but the $132,607 in gross revenue was a modest 4.9% increase.