Nevada books lose record $4.4 million on basketball in May

The Golden State Warriors routinely covered the betting spread this postseason, resulting in a major loss for Las Vegas sportsbooks. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The NBA playoffs dunked on Las Vegas.

Nevada's sportsbooks lost $4.4 million on basketball in May. It's the largest monthly hoops loss ever for the state's books, according to Nevada Gaming Control, easily besting April 1997, when the books lost $3.5 million on basketball.

"It was a bloodbath," Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for Nevada Gaming Control, told ESPN in an email. "Worst basketball loss in state history."

Overall, the sportsbooks won $2.9 million in May, primarily thanks to baseball. The books won $6.6 million on baseball during the month, a 189.4 percent increase from last May, according to numbers released Thursday morning by Nevada Gaming Control.

"A lot of the [basketball] loss for us was offset by great hold in baseball, which traditionally is one of our lowest holding sports," Frank Kunovic, director of specialty games for Caesars Palace, wrote in an email.

May was the 46th consecutive month that the state's sportsbooks have come out ahead.

But bettors got the best of the bookies in the NBA playoffs, which were dominated by favorites. There were only four upsets in May, as the team that was favored won 25 of 29 games. Favorites also did well against the point spread, covering the spread in nearly 65 percent of the games.

To top it all off, 20 of the 29 games went over the total. The betting public normally gravitates to the favorite and the over. The books even lost on parlay cards in May. Altogether, Las Vegas took a basketball bath.

During one weeklong stretch, from May 15-21, sportsbook operator CG Technology went 0-6 in NBA playoff games, resulting in a mid-six-figure loss.

"It was all public money, not sharp, that won," said Jason Simbal, CG Technology vice president of risk. "Warriors and the over, Cavs and over. We even had a negative hold on parlays."