Nevada Has $1 Billion Month in May 2015, Thanks to the Mayweather/Pacquiao Fight
Nevada had its first $1 billion-plus month in well over a year in May 2015, due to the influence of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, May 2015 showed a 3.3% increase over May 2014. The bump in gaming revenues came despite the closure of an establishment, the Riviera Hotel and Casino, which shut down at the beginning of last month.
Players wagered a total of $12.5 billion on slot machines, table games, and sports wagers in May. From that turnover, the casinos saw over $1 billion in revenues, which amounts to a house edge of about 8% for the month. That is a larger total than is usually expected. A significant bump came from the sportsbooks, especially from the “other” category.
Gaming Control Board’s Categories
In providing sports betting revenue figures, the Gaming Control Board breaks the revenues into five categories: football, baseball, basketball, horse racing, and “other”. The other category comprises all other sports, including boxing matches, MMA contests, tennis, golf, NASCAR, hockey, and proposition bets. May 2015 had a record amount of wagering in the other category. While the NHL has the Stanley Cup playoffs and tennis has the French Open, these are annual events and usually do not create enough of a sensation to break records.
$81.2 Million on Other Sports Bets
The other sports betting category for May 2015 netted $81.2 million in revenues, which is well beyond any previous figure. One of the reasons Las Vegas casinos like the MGM Grand hosts big fights is to drive action in the Strip’s sportsbooks. The Mayweather/Pacquiao fight certainly did that, with a record amount wagered for a boxing match. Major title bouts with the sport’s biggest names also tends to bring out celebrities and high rollers, who wager vast sums on the event.
Record Is Likely to Stand
The $81.2 million revenue total is likely to be a record for some time. The fight itself proved a disappointment, however you assign blame for the outcome. Fans of Manny Pacquiao are likely to blame Floyd Mayweather, who is the most defensive fighter in the sport in decades. While Mohammed Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson were known for their boxing abilities, those two legends also sought to do significant damage to their opponents while boxing. Floyd “Money” Mayweather approaches his boxing style more like it’s a business decision: hit and retreat.
Fans of Floyd Mayweather are apt to blame Manny Pacquiao for the lackluster fight. Pac-Man sustained a torn rotator cuff in training, but concealed that fact from the fight public (and the betting public). In the hours after his loss to Mayweather, Pacquiao and his camp revealed the injury, sparking a wave of derision from Money fans. They contended that boxers fight through injuries and should never use that as an excuse. Many suggested Pacquiao did the fans who spent $100 for the pay-per-view a disservice, while many gamblers who bet on him likely would agree. A class-action lawsuit was filed against Pacquiao, due to the concealment of his injuries.
Why Mayweather Fights Lack Drama
In a more general sense, Floyd Mayweather fans used the same argument they always do: don’t complain that Mayweather is too hard to catch. That’s akin to saying he’s too good and therefore the fight is unfair. Floyd Mayweather, for his part, moved his record to 48-0 and continues to make a case for the “Greatest of All Time” title. Most boxing experts do not place Mayweather in that category, as one poll had him in the #10 to #15 spot on the All-Time list. They point to his cherry-picking fights with faded legends and his inability or unwillingness to knock out opponents in the last 10 years. Some simply disklike Mayweather, who’s personal life is unsavory.
Gamblers should have known this fight was coming. It was the same contest Floyd Mayweather has been fighting for the past 10 years: use hand-speed to beat the opponent to the punch, then retreat from the counters like a swarm of bees is chasing you. It’s an effective style, though it did not win any new fans for the sports.
Las Vegas Remains Boxing’s Capital
That’s why the May 2015 fight totals are likely to stand for some time. The fight on May 5 was one of those moments when mainstream viewers chose to watch a boxing match. It was a moment when the boxing game could have put on a great show and won millions of new fans. Instead, it was a lackluster event which failed to live up to the hype. While it would have been hard to live up to the kind of hype this fight had, those casual observers are not likely to shell out $100 for pay-per-view again anytime soon–and they are not likely to want to wager big amounts on a hyped-up boxing match in the near-future.
Despite that prediction, Las Vegas appears set to be the fight capital for some time. Only a year ago, the gambling media wrote stories about how Macau one day would replace Las Vegas as the destination for world championship boxing matches and MMA fights. Some people even suggested that day would be soon, as early as 2015 or 2016.
Now, Macau is seen as a somewhat unstable business proposition. The national government in Beijing appears to be unfriendly to the casino gambling industry, and it appears to be particularly unfriendly to foreign gambling enterprises. The local authorities in Macau are busy enforcing smoking bans, while trying to mitigate further central oversight by kowtowing to the wishes of Beijing. While that is not likely to cause too many promoters to shy away from Macau in the short term, it does add a layer of complications they simply don’t have when staging fights at the MGM Grand. A major shift needs to involve a no-brainer decision and that simply doesn’t exist in Macau at the moment.
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