Colorado Retail Sportsbooks Take Pounding In February

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(Writes thru to reflect changes following correction from Colorado Department of Revenue)

The only thing better than seeing your archrivals lose in the Super Bowl may be winning wagers against them as well.

Denver Broncos fans apparently made beelines to their retail sportsbooks in February, helping football bettors come out nearly $175,000 ahead, according to numbers made available by the Colorado Department of Revenue on Monday. In total, retail sportsbooks paid out $550,000 more in winnings than the amount wagered at in-person books on the month.

The overall handle for the month was more than $266.5 million, marking the first time since Colorado launched sports betting last May that the state did not post a record monthly handle. The decline from January’s high-water mark of $326.9 million was expected, though, as the Super Bowl caps the NFL season — which is one of the primary drivers of wagering.

Despite the dip in handle, state officials are confident of a bounce-back in March, aided by the NCAA tournament and Colorado reaching the second round of the biggest U.S. sports betting event of the year outside the Super Bowl.

“One year ago, we were talking about the casinos in Colorado shutting down due to the pandemic. This March, in comparison, we’re looking forward to a new outlook for the gaming industry, given the open sportsbook retail locations and multiple online options,” Colorado Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman said. “Add in the March Madness championships, and we believe all of these factors will continue the growth trajectory that we see with sports betting in Colorado.”

Overall, operators in the Centennial State reported gross gaming revenue of more than $10.4 million for a win rate of 3.92%. The state’s monthly net revenue when accounting for promotional play and a retail loss of $568,004, however, came to barely more than $175,000. The state tax coffers received nearly double that amount at $332,227, as some operators fared better than others.

A sports betting unicorn — bettors beating the house on parlays

Retail sportsbooks had an overall win rate of -6.57% and posted a loss of $173,588 on NFL wagers, but that was small change compared to the unexpected pounding they took where they usually reign supreme — parlays and combination wagers. It appears bettors visiting sportsbooks may have paired their Buccaneers picks with various other selections as they won $982,219 on just $475,561 wagered for a staggering win rate of -106.54%.

Online NFL bettors who kept it simple also appeared to fare well as operators paid out nearly $4 million more than the near-$21.7 million they accepted in wagers on football.

For mobile and online wagering, parlay and combination action was more status quo as operators generated more than $6.6 million in revenue from over $39.9 million wagered. As a standalone category, parlays and combo wagers narrowly edged out college basketball betting ($39.6 million) for second in handle.

NFL handle was third at nearly $24.2 million, while hockey was the only other sport to reach eight figures at just over $13 million. Tennis came close, with bettors placing more than $9.5 million worth of wagers.

The house gave back nearly $175,000 in retail wagers on college basketball as bettors won more than $3.3 million on just over $3.1 million wagers. Bettors also topped the house for in-person wagering in golf and MMA, making nearly $30,000 off barely more than $14,400 wagered in those two sports.

The catch-all category of “others” was also a net win for the public, who came out nearly $890,000 ahead on almost $25.5 million in total bets placed.

Table tennis’ run of eight-figure handles came to an end of three months, but it still ranked sixth among individual sports with nearly $6.9 million worth of wagers.

In January, bettors wagered more than $325 million at legal sportsbooks across Colorado, representing the fifth straight month the state cleared the $200 million threshold.

Photo by 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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