Colorado Sports Betting Handle Surges 55 Percent in July as National Sports Resume

Posted on: August 26, 2020, 12:06h. 

Last updated on: August 26, 2020, 01:26h.

Buoyed by the return of major domestic sports leagues, Colorado notched a sports betting handle of $59.18 million in July. That’s a 55 percent increase from June, marking the best of the three months thus far that sports wagering has been live and legal in the state.

Colorado Sports Betting Rises
The returns of the NHL’s Avalanche was one reason why Colorado’s sports betting handle jumped 55 percent in July. (Image: ESPN)

Legitimate sports wagering in the Centennial State had inauspicious timing, launching on May 1 as all US sports traditionally in-season at that time were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Not surprisingly, that led to a slow start, as gamblers there were relegated to obscure offerings such as table tennis, Korean baseball, and lower-tier international soccer leagues.

That scenario improved in June with the return of the PGA Tour and a fuller slate of NASCAR and UFC events, among others. The good times continued rolling last month with more marquee sports resuming or starting 2020 seasons.

With the return of basketball, baseball, hockey and other national leagues, the total sports betting wagers placed have doubled since the beginning of sports betting in Colorado on May 1, 2020,” said the Colorado Department of Revenue in a statement.

The state is home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Avalanche, both in the midst of playoff runs in their respective leagues. Major League Baseball (MLB) kicking off its 2020 campaign last month also helped the state handle, as the Colorado Rockies took to the field.

‘Upward Trend’

The Centennial State is an alluring market for gaming companies for numerous reasons. There’s the built-in infrastructure of more than 30 commercial and tribal casinos, many of which are already or will eventually be homes to retail sportsbooks.

Not to mention the fact that Colorado has teams from all four of the major US leagues, several universities competing in Division I football and men’s basketball, and the state is one of the fastest growing in the country. It also offers geographic insulation as just one of the six states it shares a border with, New Mexico, offers legal sports betting.

“The Colorado Division of Gaming’s July Sports Betting Proceeds report clearly shows an upward trend of Coloradans embracing the new form of regulated entertainment during the pandemic as a new way to interact with their favorite sporting events,” according to the Department of Revenue.

July’s handle includes some operators new to the Colorado market, both land-based and online. Currently, there are eight brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in the state and 10 online platforms.

Still Light on Taxes

Last November, Colorado voters narrowly passed Proposition DD, which legalized sports betting under the auspices of shoring up gaps in the state’s water budget.

The expectation is that, eventually, sports betting could generate $10 million to $20 million in annual revenue for water needs. However, July receipts for the state were just under $242,000, indicating there’s a long way to go before sports betting adequately helps the water budget.

On the bright side, the August handle will almost certainly be better than July’s, particularly if the Avalanche and Nuggets can extend their playoff pushes. Likewise, the arrival of NFL season next month could be a boon for Colorado’s sports betting revenue, because the Denver Broncos are the state’s most popular professional franchise.