From Newark to Nevada, Phoenix to Pennsylvania, Chicago to Colorado, and plenty of places in between, there was a lot of money wagered on sports in November across the United States.
The overall commercial sports wagering handle from 26 states and the District of Columbia surpassed $10 billion in a month for the first time in the post-PASPA era. It is an impressive feat considering the first time monthly national handle surpassed $5 billion came in September 2021 — which also marks a pivotal time in the evolution of the NFL embracing its role in the sports betting industry.
It is also unsurprising in some ways. While Kansas was technically the only state to launch wagering in the 2022 calendar year, Louisiana, Maryland, and New York began taking mobile wagers, with the Empire State completely skewing any and all previous records by sheer force of the volume of people happy to put down bets via smartphone and computer.
There was a small surprise that crossing $10 billion came in November rather than October, which had five full weekends of wagering on college and pro football available. In 2021, October proved to be the high-water mark for monthly wagering at more than $7.5 billion — 37.8% higher than September. The September-to-October increase in 2022 was 22.4%, with October’s $9.7 billion cumulative handle coming within $150 million — roughly the monthly handle of Connecticut — of January’s record.
So where were all these bets being placed, and which sports were most popular? Here’s a breakdown by geographic region.
New York and New Jersey power Northeast
While New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut comprise the “Tri-State area,” Pennsylvania gets swapped in for the Nutmeg State when it comes to sports wagering. The Keystone State gives the Northeast region an unmatched handle powerhouse with three of the top five states represented and more than one-third of November’s total handle with close to $3.5 billion in accepted wagers.
Also interesting is New Hampshire’s $93.1 million wagered that month. The DraftKings-powered state did not set a monthly record for handle in November, but it was one of four months in 2022 when wagering surpassed $90 million, as many people from Massachusetts likely crossed the border for NFL action. Whether New Hampshire can maintain that level with the Bay State finally accepting wagers is something to watch in 2023.
Maryland mobile key in Mid-Atlantic
There are many small pieces that go into baking a $10 billon monthly pie. Maryland’s handle of $219.1 million in November was augmented by mobile wagering being available the final eight days of the month. The difference in handle versus the retail-only wagering conducted in the Old Line State is notable — the previous handle high in 10 months of brick-and-mortar betting was the $39.7 million in October.
Considering the overall November handle was only $16 million above the $10 billion mark, Maryland’s slow and steady path to mobile wagering befitting a terrapin proved essential to making the milestone happen. Mobile availability in Maryland also showed no ill effect on Virginia, which spent the final quarter of 2022 clearing $500 million handle in each month to consistently carve out a spot in the top 10 nationally.
Tennessee continues to lead the Mid-South
Had it not been for New York’s expansion into mobile, Tennessee would likely have locked down a spot in the top 10 for most of 2022. An all-digital territory, the Volunteer State was aided by a rise in the quality of both its college football and basketball programs at the University of Tennessee. Sportsbooks in the state went from clearing $300 million handle per month the fourth quarter of 2021 to surpassing $400 million for the same period in 2022.
The results of Louisiana’s progression into mobile wagering may have the knock-on effect of spurring Texas into action this legislative session. Mississippi’s mobile access is restricted to the casino properties, limiting handle to a degree, and the state actually saw a full-year-over-year drop in handle despite a notable rise in November compared to 2021. Arkansas was another instance where expanding to include mobile wagering made a difference in getting the country to $10 billion, as its $30.6 million handle was more than a three-fold increase from November 2021, when wagering was restricted to its three racetracks.
The I’s serve as betting engine of Midwest
Any doubts about Illinois supplanting Nevada as the No. 3 sports betting market were definitively erased as the Land of Lincoln not only bested the Silver State in both October and November, but also did so by becoming the fourth state to clear $1 billion in monthly handle — for both months. Michigan continued to flirt with the half-billion mark; the Wolverine State had a range between $494 million and $514 million in each month of the fourth quarter in both 2021 and 2022.
Though November’s handle was down year-over-year, Indiana bettors continued to do enough to keep the Hoosier State in the top 10 nationally. Kansas, which began taking wagers in September, proved to be a quick study. The Sunflower State’s $186 million-plus November handle was one of three straight months in a narrow band between just shy of $182 million and nearly $191 million.
Nevada no longer only game in town out West
The West region of the U.S. does not lack for volume when it comes to sports wagering as both Arizona and Colorado have entrenched themselves in the top 10 on a monthly basis to join Nevada. Perhaps the only disappointment with November’s handle from the Silver State was the failure to simultaneously have four states with $1 billion monthly handle for the first time.
Both Arizona and Colorado showed the same capabilities as Tennessee in notably raising their handle benchmarks in the fourth quarter. Though the Grand Canyon State has yet to publish December numbers, its year-over-year handle bumped above $600 million in the final quarter of 2022 versus failing to reach $500 million in 2021. Colorado saw its year-over-year uptick go from $460 million in 2021 to $520 million in 2022, with the $552 million in November ranking No. 2 overall in state history.
South Dakota was included in the West Region given that it borders three states — Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado — with legal wagering and it also has peers there in terms of handle with Wyoming and Montana. All three rank in the bottom four handle states. Deadwood has yet to truly flirt with its first $1 million handle, having failed to crack $900,000 in any month, but November’s total was only $511 shy of a new state record.
In-story graphics by Blundell Design, in-story charts by Chris Altruda