Arizona became the ninth state to surpass $1 billion in all-time sports wagering revenue Wednesday when the state’s Department of Gaming reported a record $60.1 million in Arizona sports betting winnings for September.
The Grand Canyon State also became the fastest to the milestone, reaching the benchmark in 25 months of sports wagering. Illinois held the previous record at 27 months, which excluded two months of no bets due to the COVID-19 pandemic taking place before mobile wagering was available. Arizona, Illinois, and Virginia are the only states to reach $1 billion in total operator revenue in less than 30 months.
The return of the NFL season in a state where operators are allowed to deduct bonuses and promotional credits against their gross revenue meant sportsbooks aggressively sought business from new and existing bettors. The $27.1 million outlay in credits and free bets was the second-highest all-time in Arizona, trailing only the $31.2 million that came with the state’s launch in September 2021.
That contributed to a handle of $610.7 million, up 13.5% from the previous September as the Grand Canyon State topped $600 million for the fifth time in 12 months and sixth time overall. The collective 9.8% hold across the state resulted in the record gross revenue haul that also made Arizona the ninth state to have at least one monthly operator revenue total of $60 million or more.
The aggressive promotional spend, however, resulted in close to $32.6 million in adjusted gross revenue eligible for taxation. The 54.2% of operator gross revenue taxed was the lowest since the 45.7% of $35.4 million in winnings in February when Arizona hosted Super Bowl LVIII. The state collected $3.2 million in taxes for September, and the $24.7 million in receipts through the first three quarters of 2023 is more than $6.3 million ahead of last year’s pace.
DraftKings, FanDuel bust out the promos
Running SEPTEMBER Top 10 #SportsBetting handles by state
1 New York $1.77B2 New Jersey ~$1.3B3 Nevada $811.2M4 Penn. $726.3M5 Ohio $691.7M6 ARIZONA $610.7M7 Virginia $520.3M8 Colorado $512.8M9 Mass. $512.2M10 Michigan $475.8M#gamblingtwitter #sportsbettingtwitter
— Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73) November 16, 2023
DraftKings and FanDuel accounted for more than 65% of the $605.2 million mobile handle for September, and both were more than willing to spend to maintain their market share.
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DraftKings set its Arizona all-time highs in revenue and handle at $20.9 million and $218 million, respectively, while its $11.4 million outlay of promotional goodies ranked behind only the $12.5 million spent at launch. It also took back the top all-time handle spot from FanDuel at $3.82 billion, with the two juggernauts separated by less than $11.3 million.
FanDuel set a 2023 best for revenue at $22.7 million, crafting a 12.7% hold off $179.2 million worth of accepted wagers. Its promotional spend of $8.3 million was FanDuel’s all-time high in Arizona, 12.4% higher than the $7.4 million in promotional credits in September 2022.
BetMGM remained the only mobile sportsbook that could offer promotional spend at a scale remotely near DraftKings and FanDuel, reaching a high point for 2023 with more than $5.3 million. Its handle surged 78.2% compared to August to $89.9 million, which was also 11.8% higher compared to the previous September. BetMGM finished with a hold of 11% to claim $9.9 million in gross winnings, while it also eclipsed $2 billion in overall handle in Arizona.
Caesars rounded out the top four for handle at $56.2 million, up 21.8% year-over-year despite a modest 11.5% dip in promotional spend to $1.1 million. Its hold of close to 8% resulted in almost $4.5 million in gross revenue, pushing it over $25 million for the calendar year.
Desert Diamond continues to be the local skin gone big, rounding out the top five for handle with ease at $25.1 million — nearly double that of sixth-place PENN Entertainment, which will look to cut that gap with recently launched ESPN BET. But the feast-or-famine nature of the Tuscon-based book resulted in another tough month, as it paid out $923,214 above that amount to bettors.
The local sportsbook’s three losing months in 2023 have seen the public come out nearly $2.4 million ahead on $63.4 million handle, and Desert Diamond posted sub-1% holds in February and August. It has a 2.3% overall hold on $171.5 million handle in 2023, claiming $3.9 million in gross revenue.
PENN, which was the only other mobile book with an eight-figure handle in September, had a 2023-best 8.5% hold to claim over $1.1 million in winnings. Its overall win rate for the year is 5.6%, resulting in $7.4 million in gross revenue from $131.7 million worth of bets.
Plenty of dollars in the desert
Running post-PASPA Top 10 #SportsBetting handle by state (thru Oct in CAPS)
1 New Jersey ~$41.5B2 Nevada $35.15B3 NEW YORK $31.67B4 Illinois $25.35B5 Penn $23.89B6 Colorado ~$13.9B7 INDIANA $13.82B 8 Arizona ~$12.3B9 Michigan $11.97B10 Virginia $11.88B#GamblingTwitter
— Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73) November 16, 2023
In looking at handle numbers against geographical peers Nevada and Colorado, Arizona has the biggest year-to-date percentage gain, as its $4.5 billion handle is 6.9% higher versus the first nine months of 2022. By comparison, Colorado’s year-to-date handle is up a modest 2.7% to almost $3.7 billion, while Nevada is down 4.8% to $5.7 billion.
Despite the sizable gap in handle compared to the Silver State, Arizona leads the trio in 2023 operator revenue at $390.5 million thanks to an 8.6% hold that is 3.1 percentage points higher than Nevada’s and 1.1 percentage points better than Colorado. That has helped the Grand Canyon State’s gross revenue climb 25.1% year-over-year compared to 16.4% in Colorado and 5.7% in Nevada.
Arizona has been able to tax 63.4% of its operator revenue this year compared to 68.9% in Colorado. Nevada does not allow for promotional deductions, which allows the state to tax its full revenue at 6.75%. Despite having the lowest percentage, Arizona still leads the trio in tax revenue for the calendar year, ahead of Nevada by $3.5 million and $5.8 million better than Colorado.
Arizona’s numbers pushed the nationwide monthly handle over $10 billion for just the fifth time since sports wagering become available on a state-by-state basis in 2018. September’s current overall handle of $10.48 billion is within striking distance of January’s all-time record of $11.49 billion, as Illinois has yet to report and Kentucky has yet to publish figures from its September retail launch.
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