Colorado Latest State To Set Record, With $408.3M September Betting Handle

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The parade of record-setting monthly sports wagering handles made its way west to Colorado, where the state’s Department of Revenue reported more than $408.3 million worth of bets placed in September on Friday.

The figure easily eclipsed the previous high of $326.9 million established in January and also represents — for the moment — the largest handle generated by a state outside the “Big 4” of New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois, and Pennsylvania in the post-PASPA era that started in May 2018. Colorado’s handle is the ninth monthly handle record among 19 jurisdictions that have reported September figures, and the report pushed the national handle over $4 billion with four states outstanding.

It also marked the third time the Centennial State cleared $300 million in monthly handle since accepting its first wagers in May 2020.

In terms of comparisons, handle increased 92.7% versus August’s total of $211.9 million and 96.6% lined up against September 2020’s figure of nearly $207.7 million. The gross gaming revenue of nearly $22.7 million from a 5.55% win rate was the second-highest total for operators in Colorado, trailing only the $23.1 million from January.

But the state saw barely any of that revenue in the form of taxable income due to a staggering amount of promotional play offered by operators, which is customary in the opening weeks of the NFL season. The adjusted gaming revenue totaled barely more than $1.8 million — approximately 8% of the overall total as more than $20.8 million was deemed promotional operator revenue in September.

While Colorado is no stranger to heavy promotional play, September’s total was large even by its standards — the previous high was just shy of $11.5 million of promotional play last December. Still, finishing ahead in September could be considered a victory since the nearly $7.6 million in promotional revenue reported in September 2020 created an adjusted gaming revenue loss of close to $3.4 million.

The heavy promotional play this year contributed to tax receipts totaling $483,048 for September, lifting the total for the year just over $7.7 million.

Football fuels surge, parlays nearly half of revenue

A scenario that has played out nationwide extended to Colorado as wagering on NFL games was the top draw in September. Bettors placed more than $125.7 million worth of wagers on pro pigskin, accounting for 30.8% of the overall handle. The public did fairly well considering the high handle, with operators making $4.5 million in revenue and posting a 3.57% win rate.

The house, though, made bank where it usually does: parlay wagering. Play reverted to form in September as operators collected $11.2 million from more than $62.5 million wagered for a 17.92% win rate compared to the $4.7 million and 7.57% hold generated in August from close to $61.9 million worth of bets. Parlay wagering has generated nearly $59.2 million in gross revenue this year on the strength of a 13.94% hold, accounting for 37% of all operator revenue.

Setting parlay wagering aside, the public fared well across the board as win rates on baseball (4.33%), college football (3.46%), basketball (2.23%), and the catch-all “other” category (-2.9%) were all below 5%. In the case of “other” sports, the house lost more than $1.2 million on just over $42 million wagered.

Baseball revenue ranked just third among all categories at just under $3 million, while college football ($1.6 million), soccer ($1.1 million), and tennis ($1.1 million) all reached seven figures for operator revenue.

Table tennis, which continues to be a phenomenon largely unique to Coloradoans, hit a milestone in crossing $10 million for all-time operator revenue. More than $11 million was wagered on the sport in September, with the house keeping just over $720,000.

Overall, there has been nearly $146.8 million wagered on table tennis, more than the all-time combined sports betting handles of Arkansas and Montana ($137.7 million).

Photo: Scott Galvin/USA TODAY

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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