Colorado’s sportsbooks returned to growth as interest in the playoff runs of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets pushed the state’s betting volume to nearly $250 million in May. The month’s results show how valuable the success of local teams can be to bookmakers, especially in what is the offseason of sports betting, according to PlayColorado, which tracks the state’s regulated sports betting market.
“The U.S. jurisdictions that have fared best over the last two months have tended to be those like Colorado where a local team thrived or a locally held event drew heavy interest,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayColorado.com. “The biggest takeaway is that Colorado’s bettors remain engaged, and that will prove important once football season kicks off and robust growth returns.”
Sportsbooks accepted $249.0 million in May wagers online and in retail sportsbooks, or $8.0 million bets per day in May, according to data released Friday afternoon by the Colorado Division of Gaming. Those wagers were up 1.9% from $244.5 million in bets in April and up nearly 10-fold from $25.6 million in wagers in May 2020, the first month of sports betting in Colorado.
May’s wagers produced $15.2 million in gross gaming revenue, down 13.7% from $17.6 million in April but up from $2.6 million in May 2020. After promotional credits, sportsbooks reported $5.9 million in net sports betting proceeds, which yielded $635,641 in tax revenue.
The nation’s largest legal sports betting markets have been a mixed bag over the last two months, the beginning of a relatively slow period in sports betting that will last until football season. Of the Top 10 U.S. markets that have reported May data, Colorado’s month-over-month increase in wagering was smaller than New Jersey (up 8.9%) and Indiana (up 7.6%), but larger than Iowa (down 2.9%), Michigan (down 6.0%), and Pennsylvania (down 6.7%). Colorado’s handle did drop 18.8% in April, but all of the nation’s 10 largest markets saw at least a 13% decline in betting from March to April.
“Colorado’s sportsbooks are in a good position relative to most other legal states,” said Ian St. Clair, analyst for PlayColorado.com. “The seasonal slowdown will continue to be a factor until the NFL and college football returns. For now, though, the state’s sportsbooks are doing what they can to keep interest up by taking advantage of the opportunities, such as playoff appearances by the Nuggets and the Avs, as they come.”
With the Nuggets beginning their playoff journey in May, the NBA spurred $86.9 million in basketball wagering, up from $84.3 million in April. Baseball was the second-most popular sport with $49.1 million, up from $48.3 million in April despite the struggles of the Colorado Rockies. The Avalanche pushed hockey betting to $15.5 million from $10.6 million in April. Table tennis ($10.3 million), soccer ($9.9 million), and tennis ($8.2 million) also drove significant interest from bettors.
“With both the Avalanche and Nuggets eliminated and the Colorado Rockies struggling, Colorado won’t be as lucky as it has been for the remainder of the summer months,” St. Clair said. “But baseball’s All-Star Game should generate some interest, as well as an influx of out-of-state bettors. And the state’s sportsbooks will be creative in maximizing interest in events such as The Olympics.”
For more information and analysis on regulated sports betting in Colorado, visit PlayColorado.com/revenue.