Colorado Achieves A Number Of Superlatives During Record Sports Betting Month In January

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After posting solid figures for the first eight months of legal sports betting in Colorado, sportsbooks in the Centennial State opened 2021 with an encouraging start to the calendar year.

In January, bettors wagered $326.9 million at legal sportsbooks throughout Colorado, representing a 14.9% increase from December’s statewide handle. Sports betting operators generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $23.1 million, resulting in a win rate of 7.08%. The state achieved a number of superlatives on the month: first month with GGR in excess of $20 million; first month with sports betting net revenue above $10 million; and first month with tax receipts above the $1 million level.

In total, the state collected $1.19 million in taxes from sports betting wagers in January, representing a 125% increase from the previous month, the Colorado Division of Gaming said Thursday.

Pro basketball receives top billing

When ranking individual sports by handle, pro basketball took the top spot in January with $88.4 million wagered on the month. The figure is impressive considering that the Denver Nuggets failed to meet expectations at the start of the season following a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2020. Basketball slightly edged pro football, which came in second with a handle of $74.9 million.

College basketball finished in third with $39.8 million wagered on the month, or 12.2% of the overall handle. Table tennis, which ranked fourth, continues to perform well. Colorado bettors wagered $11.8 million on table tennis in January, marking the third consecutive month that handle for the sport eclipsed $10 million. Four other sports, ice hockey ($9.6 million), soccer ($6.1 million), NCAA football ($3.4 million), and MMA ($3.0 million) each produced handle of at least $3 million on the month. Wagering on tennis ($2.9 million) and golf ($1.7 million) rounded out the Top 10.

Also in January, bettors placed $53.3 million on parlays, up nearly 15% from December’s total of $46.4 million. Colorado books generated more than $8 million in revenue on parlay wagers, resulting in a hold of 15.6%. Overall, parlays accounted for more than one-third of the state’s GGR in January.

Mobile betting continues to account for a majority of the state’s overall handle, with 98% of wagers placed online.

Comparisons with other states

Among 15 states that reported monthly sports betting figures for January, Colorado ranks fifth behind Indiana, where bettors wagered $348.2 million on the month. The top three were New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, each of which saw handle eclipse $600 million for the first month of the year.

Sports bettors nationwide continue to embrace mobile sports betting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The figures in the aforementioned three states ranked second (New Jersey), eighth (Nevada), and ninth (Pennsylvania) nationally all-time in terms of handle for a single month.

Earlier this month, Colorado sportsbooks accepted $31.2 million in wagers on the Super Bowl, including $16.9 million on the day of the game. While books reported a win of negative $1.24 million, the vast majority of losses came from a massive bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by Jim “Mattress Mack,” McIngvale. The prominent furniture owner collected $2.72 million on the wager at DraftKings.

The month of January also represented the fifth consecutive month the state cleared the $200 million threshold in bets wagered, while Colorado set a state handle record for the eighth straight month. Legal sports betting launched in Colorado on May 1, 2020 when four sportsbook operators — DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and BetRivers — went live.

Overall, Colorado bettors have wagered more than $1.5 billion at legal sportsbooks across the state since the May launch. In December, Colorado became just the fifth state nationwide to surpass the $1 billion mark in handle since the Supreme Court’s historic PASPA decision in 2018.

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Matt is a veteran writer with a specific focus on the emerging sports gambling market. During Matt's two decade career in journalism, he has written for the New York Times, Forbes, The Guardian, Reuters and CBSSports.com among others. In his spare time, Matt is an avid reader, a weekend tennis player and a frequent embarrassment to the sport of running.

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