Arizona sports betting saw an increase of more than 40% in handle during the month of March from the prior month to $692 million, a new record for the state. According to data released Monday, sports gamblers won back all but $39 million of that money.
Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt attributed the growth to college basketball’s March Madness tournament and other major events. “March was an exciting month for Arizona event wagering, with major sporting events like NCAA’s March Madness helping set a single month event wagering handle record,” he said, according to Associated Press. “I look forward to seeing how the industry continues to develop as we finish out the first year of legal event wagering in the coming months.”
The Department of Gaming said sportsbooks made $37.2 million in gross profits after federal tax. But that was before they gave away $18.6 million in free bets. That left $18.7 million in adjusted profits for the 17 professional sporting teams and tribes running mobile or brick-and-mortar sports books. The state collected $1.86 million in taxes, its largest monthly haul to date. The state levies an 8% tax on retail wagers and 10% on mobile app bets.
Nearly all the bets were made online, and only two brick-and-mortar betting locations were running that month. One operation that was taking online bets in February reported no activity in March.
According to AP, the free bets, which have been reported as eating into the profit and the state’s tax haul, are set to phase out over the next several years. They start at 20% of gross receipts in the first two years and then drop to 15% and then 10% before ending in the sixth year of legalized sports betting.
The March numbers implied a big rebound for the state after February’s take had dipped with the end of the NFL season, with Arizonans wagering $492 million that month, $200 million less than in March. Meanwhile, fantasy sports betting dipped from $1.7 million in entry fees in February to $1.3 million.