Sports betting is one of the few bright spots in Nevada's gaming industry, with a record $3.45 billion wagered statewide in 2012.
Data from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research shows that the total handle bet on sports recovered nicely in 2010 after a slight downturn caused by the last recession. Last year's handle was 33 percent higher than the pre-recession record of $2.59 billion wagered on sports in 2007.
The $170 million the sports books won last year also was second highest on record, trailing only the $191.5 million earned in 2006.
But the betting public has been doing a better job in recent years, judging by the shrinking percentage of money gambled that the sports books are retaining. After reaching a high point of keeping 7.89 cents of every dollar gambled in 2006, the books kept only 4.93 cents of every dollar wagered last year.
The most lucrative action for sports books is wagering on parlay cards, with the books keeping 23.3 cents of every dollar bet in 2012. Still, that profit margin is down sharply from prior years.
When it comes to individual sports, the books did slightly better on basketball last year (keeping 4.91 cents of every dollar bet) than on football (4.37 cents kept) and baseball (4.34 cents retained).
Although the 182 sports books that operated in Nevada in 2012 was double the number of books that existed in 1990, they accounted for only 1.57 percent of the money won last year by Nevada casinos with nonrestricted gaming licenses.
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