March is typically one of the most bet-on months of the year, but West Virginia sports betting did not follow that trend.
Per the West Virginia Lottery, the weeks ending in March produced a total handle of about $43.1 million. While these numbers are an 8.3% increase from February’s $39.8 million, they represented a 22.6% decrease from the approximately $48.5 million in March 2022.
This time frame includes data from Feb. 26 through March 25. Any wagers placed the week leading up to April 1’s Final Four matchups will appear on next month’s records, indistinguishable from game day action on the first of the new month.
Handle is down, but revenue is up
Of the $43.1 million wagered, sportsbooks returned $38.8 million to bettors. This resulted in total revenue of $4.2 million (9.9% hold). The state collected 10% for taxes, nearly $421,000.
March’s hold directly contrasts with last year’s paltry 5.6% hold, the second-worst in 2022. Despite a significantly lower handle in March 2023, revenue increased 35% YoY from the $3.1 million in revenue in March 2022.
Through roughly the first quarter of 2023, March recorded the second-highest handle and best sports betting revenue of any month’s four-week period.
- March: $43.1 million handle; $4.2 million revenue
- February: $39.8 million handle; $2.8 million revenue
- January: $44.8 million handle; $3.7 million revenue
March Madness wagers declined in second weekend
Sports betting action grew throughout the first half of March but peaked on Saturday, March 18, with the first two rounds of the March Madness basketball tournaments.
The following week’s data, ending on March 25, do not include the final two matchups of the Elite 8 and brought the lowest handle of any seven-day period in the month. However, sportsbooks had their best week percentage-wise, with a 13.8% hold.
Weekly data for periods is shown below:
- Feb. 26 – March 4: $10.7 million handle; $697K revenue
- March 5-11: $11.1 million handle; $441K revenue
- March 12-18: $11.9 million handle; $1.8 million revenue
- March 19-25: $9.4 million handle; $1.3 million revenue
Greenbrier overtakes Charles Town for the top spot
West Virginia’s top two licensees, The Greenbrier and Charles Town, accounted for around 90% of all handle and revenue during March.
The Greenbrier reclaimed the top spot for the first time since August 2022, with about $19.9 million handled and $2.1 million in revenue (10.8% hold).
Charles Town’s $19.1 million handle was in the same ballpark as The Greenbrier’s, but its 8.8% hold resulted in $1.7 million in revenue, roughly $457K less.
Mountaineer finished third with a $2.5 million handle and around $198K in revenue, despite having the lowest hold (7.8%) of any licensee.
Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island handled similar numbers of around $834K and $796K, respectively. However, Mardi Gras hit six figures in revenue, about $114K, due to a state-high 13.6% hold. Wheeling’s revenue totaled about $70K (8.8% hold).
As usual, mobile betting dominated all action, recording $38.3 million of all wagers. Retail sportsbooks took in the remaining $4.8 million.
2023 looks to be a down year for WV sports betting
Total sports betting numbers are down through the first three months of 2023, and help does not look to be on the way. Even with the Final Four taking place in April, it historically begins a five-month slow period.
The main events between now and football season include the NBA and NHL playoffs, MLB regular season, and several golf tournaments. These events are not enough to compete with football, especially when summer budgets go toward vacation time and other warm-weather activities.
So, will numbers recover in the fall? Over the last two years, January projected similarly to monthly averages between September and December. And January’s handle dropped by more than 30% YoY.
These same four months outperform March by about 10%. By either of these measures, one or two months during the fall will return handles below $50 million.