Colorado scored its biggest month of sports betting yet, as an unparalleled sports schedule that featured the first games of the NFL season, MLB, and the NBA and NHL playoffs sent the state’s bettors into online and retail sportsbooks in September. Edging Indiana with a record $207.7 million in bets for the month, and with a bevy of new operators making their debut, Colorado joins a group of five states that have generated more than $200 million in a single month, according to analysts from PlayColorado.
“Colorado is nowhere near maturity as a market, and yet its gains continue to put it among the top markets in the U.S.,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayColorado.com. “Interest in the Denver Broncos was bound to help spur interest in the NFL’s first few weeks. But September still managed to outpace what we could have reasonably expected just two months ago.”
September’s handle, which was released Friday by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming, was up 61% from $128.6 million in August. September’s wagers led to $4.2 million in gross gaming revenue, down 45% from $7.5 million in August.
Colorado edged Indiana to temporarily take over the No. 4 spot among U.S. legal sports betting markets. Indiana also enjoyed a record September with $207.5 million in handle. Fledgling Illinois, which leapfrogged the Centennial State with $140 million in August bets, has yet to announce its September data.
September’s gains netted a loss of $3.4 million in betting proceeds, down from $1.9 million in August, a product of bad luck and heavy promotions for the state’s sportsbooks. Despite the loss, $69,772 was injected into state coffers.
The return of the Denver Broncos and NFL was a key reason why betting was so brisk. WIth three full weekends of NFL action, football generated $38.6 million in wagers. Baseball, though, showed surprising strength by generating $47.1 million. Heavy interest in the Denver Nuggets, who weren’t eliminated from the NBA playoffs until Sept. 26, led to $36.9 million being bet on basketball. Hockey chipped in $11.3 million.
“The NFL is king in every major U.S. sports betting market, so it is no surprise that Colorado bettors showed significant interest, but baseball is proving formidable,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayColorado.com. “Colorado is quickly developing into a well-rounded market with significant betting interest in a wide array of sports, including table tennis, which remains shockingly popular.”
Online sportsbooks have proven to be by far the overwhelming preference for Colorado’s bettors. $203.9 million, or 98.2%, of all September’s wagers were made online. That is essentially even with 98.5% in August. No other major legal sports betting market has seen such a high percentage of its monthly handle generated online.
Operators have clearly noticed. In September alone, Colorado welcomed the launch of four new online sportsbooks, including theScore, William Hill, Betfred, and Sportsbetting.com.
“The Colorado market will continue to sort itself out for the foreseeable future, and its growth prospects remain enormous as more and more operators enter,” Welman said. “Illinois’ population will make it nearly impossible for Colorado to keep pace, but catching Indiana so quickly is impressive. In fact, Colorado’s race with Indiana remains among the most intriguing storylines of U.S. sports betting.”
For more information and analysis on regulated sports betting in Colorado, visit PlayColorado.com/news.