Colorado Sees More Than $2.3B in Wagers in First Year of Legal Sports Betting

The sport in Colorado that earned the most action from the state's bettors was professional basketball, with about US$435.2 million in wagers.

Posted: May 11, 2021 12:41 PM ET Updated: May 11, 2021 12:41 PM ET
Colorado Sees More Than $2.3B in Wagers in First Year of Legal Sports Betting
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Colorado sportsbooks saw more than US$2.3 billion in handle during the first year of legalized action in the state, which officials say was better than what they were expecting in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Colorado Division of Gaming recently released early and unaudited sports betting numbers for the period between May 1, 2020, and April 30 of this year. According to those figures, total wagers placed in the first year of legalized sports betting in the state amounted to US$2,325,477,052. 

Gross gaming revenues (total handle minus winning payouts) were US$148.1 million for the year, and net sports betting proceeds (the amount the state collects taxes on, which is all wagers minus free bets, payments to players, and federal excise taxes) were nearly US$66 million.

“The first year of sports betting exceeded our expectations, especially after we launched amid a worldwide pandemic that shuttered the casinos, the industry, and Colorado,” said Dan Hartman, Division of Gaming Director, in a press release. “Looking back on a year ago, I don’t believe any of us expected to be where we are with our numbers and our operations.”

Colorado voters passed a ballot measure in November 2019 that teed up the state to allow legal sports betting both in-person and online. In doing so, Colorado became the 19th state in the U.S. to legalize some kind of sports betting.

The first bets were taken in Colorado in May 2020 by a handful of internet operators, with around US$25.6 million in wagers placed in that first month. By March of this year, however, the state was reporting approximately US$301 million in wagers (the vast majority of it from online sources) via 20 internet operators and 16 retail books. 

The total win percentage for the state from May 2020 to March 2021 was 6.24 percent. The sport that earned the most action from the state's bettors was professional basketball, with about US$435.2 million in wagers. The next most popular sport was professional football, at approximately US$383.5 million.

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