Strong MLB Start For Colorado Sportsbooks Despite Marlins’ Outbreak

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Had the Colorado Rockies played a full 162-game slate in 2020, the Rockies were scheduled to face the Miami Marlins for a four-game series last week to complete a lengthy post All-Star Game homestand.

As it turned out, the Rockies fortuitously avoided the Marlins on their truncated 60-game schedule, which features opponents exclusively from the National League West and American League West. On Tuesday, Major League Baseball temporarily suspended the Marlins’ season through Aug. 2 after approximately half the roster tested positive for COVID-19. The Philadelphia Phillies, who lost two of three to the Marlins last weekend, also had their three-game series with the New York Yankees postponed.

Despite the rash of Marlins’ cases and the postponements, Colorado sportsbooks continue to surge forward after a strong opening to the MLB season. At BetRivers, baseball ranked as the most popular sport of the weekend, with 47% of all sports bets in Colorado being placed on MLB. When the Rockies opened the regular season last Friday vs. the Texas Rangers, action on the game represented 19% of the overall handle at BetRivers on the day, the largest percentage of any single weekend sporting event in Colorado, said Troy Machir, senior manager of content strategy at Rush Street Interactive.

Promotions abound

Sportsbooks throughout the Centennial State celebrated the opening of the season with a bevy of promotions for customers. A promotion from FOX Bet awarded $50 to new Colorado customers, as well as existing ones through July 24. Another from BetMGM offered new customers $100 in free bets on a $1 wager if either team recorded a homer in Friday’s Rockies-Rangers opener.

While neither team cleared the fences on Friday night, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story clubbed two home runs Sunday in Colorado’s 5-2 victory over Texas. Story, the fastest shortstop in MLB history to reach 100 career home runs, has odds of 35-1 to be crowned as NL home run king. The two-time All-Star also opened at 40-1 at both DraftKings and BetMGM to win NL MVP honors.

In Colorado at DraftKings, approximately 20% of the handle on NL MVP markets is on Story, compared with only 2% nationwide. Story is also second in terms of ticket volume at 21%, behind teammate Nolan Arenado, the overwhelming favorite for MVP. More than one-third of all MVP tickets at DraftKings’ Colorado sportsbook have been placed on Arenado, the Rockies’ star third baseman. By comparison, Arenado (odds of 18/1) is sixth overall at DraftKings’ sportsbooks nationwide, with only about 3% of the handle.

Despite their 140/1 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Rockies are the top choice among FanDuel bettors in Colorado to win the World Series, ahead of the Dodgers and Yankees. A FanDuel customer placed a $5,000 win bet on the Rockies at the run line on Opening Day. Wagers on first-inning total runs and total home runs have also been popular in Colorado, said Kevin Hennessy, director of publicity at FanDuel.

The Rockies’ surprising start has prompted some locals to take a chance on their team. After the Rockies took two of three against the Rangers, their odds to capture the NL West fell from 34/1 to 22/1, Wildwood Casino General Manager Matt Andrighetti told COBets.com. The Rockies followed it up with an 8-3 win over Oakland on Tuesday to improve to 3-1.

“If the Dodgers drop a couple games, I’m sure we’ll start getting some good action there,” Andrighetti said.

During MLB opening weekend, roughly 20% of all sports bets at BetWildwood were on baseball, he added.

Mobile madness

As with virtually every state across the country, an overwhelming percent of wagers during the return of sports are expected to be placed on online or mobile platforms in Colorado. Though the Colorado Division of Sports Betting does not release a monthly breakdown of mobile and retail sports wagers, roughly four of five bets are expected to be placed on an electronic device. While Monarch Casino in Black Hawk did have sportsbook kiosks open last weekend, the majority of mobile bets were placed on its BetMonarch mobile app, a company spokesman said.

Over a four-day period through July 26, more than three-quarters of all wagers at BetRivers in Colorado were made via mobile app, Machir said.

On futures markets, the Marlins’ outbreak has had little impact on the Rockies or the rest of the league. Circa Sports, a newcomer to Colorado, took all season-win total bets off the board after the first regular-season game. MLB teams must play at least 59 games for the bet to receive action, Circa Sports Operations Manager Jeffrey Benson told COBets.

A similar dynamic has played out at BetMGM, where the Marlins are 500/1 to win the World Series.

“All futures are still up involving them, albeit they were already the outsider in the field so it has little to no bearing on those either,” BetMGM Head of Public Relations & Communications Elisa Richardson told COBets.

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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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