Colorado Sportsbooks Clear $5 Billion In All-Time Handle With Solid December


Colorado became the sixth state to clear $5 billion in sports betting handle in the post-PASPA era after the state’s Department of Revenue on Monday reported more than $461.4 million worth of wagers were placed in the final month of the year.

While the monthly figure represented a 2.9% decline from November’s $475.4 million handle, it was more than enough to lift the Centennial State into a select group that includes New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. It was the fourth consecutive month that handle eclipsed $400 million in Colorado, with bets from September through December accounting for 36.5% of the overall handle since launch in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a rough November in which operators claimed a record $36.8 million in gross revenue, bettors’ fortunes improved as they limited the house to a 5.4% win rate in December. The third-lowest hold reported since launch resulted in operators posting $24.7 million in gross revenue, a 32.8% month-over-month drop as the hold plunged nearly 2.5 percentage points.

The strong handle, however, contributed to December’s gross revenue being the third-highest in the 20 months of reports and the fourth consecutive month above $20 million.

The state saw barely more than 20% of the revenue amount as net sports betting proceeds available to be taxed. Operators reported $19.5 million in promotional revenue for December, the second-largest amount overall and fourth straight of at least $17.6 million. The $5.2 million in adjusted revenue did result in $770,370 in state taxes, which added up to $11.7 million for the year.

For the year, Colorado operators generated slightly more than $250 million in gross revenue, of which 58.7% or $146.7 million was deemed promotional revenue. The state was able to tax approximately $103.4 million of operator revenue, and the $14.7 million in overall taxes since launch represents 0.3% of the all-time handle.

Parlays and NFL represent most of revenue

While parlays provided the biggest share of the gross revenue with $8.3 million, bettors nearly halved the books’ parlay win rate from November to a respectable 10.5% on $79.4 million last month. That compared to the 20.4% in November, which had resulted in operators collecting $17.1 million from $83.8 million in such bets. That story played out in near-identical fashion in NFL wagering, as operator hold plummeted from 10.3% in November to 5.4% in December, with operator revenue dropping 48.8% to nearly $7.4 million from $136.5 million wagered on pro football.

Operators did fare slightly better in NBA wagering, as the hold climbed from 1.9% to 3.6%, but the final number of $4.5 million from a record monthly handle of $125.5 million was the third-highest total of 2021. Based on individual monthly sport handle totals the Department of Revenue has released since the information is furnished for the top 10 sports, the NBA became the first sport to clear $1 billion in handle, while the NFL is close behind at $972.9 million.

Bettors also continued a strong run in wagering on college hoops, keeping the house below 2% hold for a second straight month and losing just $435,002 from $27.5 million bet. Bettors did post a “W” in MMA betting, claiming $138,359 in profits from just over $3.5 million wagered as the house posted a -3.9% win rate. Beyond the big three of parlays, NFL, and NBA wagering, operators failed to reach $1 million in revenue in any other sport, coming closest in hockey with $893,221 on more than $14.5 million wagered.

The popularity of table tennis remains strong, as the niche sport was seventh among individual sports with close to $9.2 million handle. For the year, there was close to $110.6 million wagered, with revenue barely clearing $8 million as operators posted a respectable 7.2% hold.

Photo: Shutterstock

Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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