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US – Colorado sees April decline to finish first successful year of sports betting

By - 26 May 2021

Colorado’s sports betting volume dropped in April, a product of seasonal pressures that will likely slow the state’s sportsbooks until football season. But as sports betting in the state turned one, a modest decline hardly dampens the outlook for a state poised for more growth in Year two.

“In US sports betting, there isn’t any real substitute for the popularity of the NFL or the NCAA Tournament,” said Ian St. Clair, analyst for PlayColorado.com. “But even with a monthly decline in wagering, Colorado continues to fare well compared with similarly sized states. The circumstances now are radically different from last year’s pandemic-plagued launch, and there is reason to believe that the state will be back to full speed once football returns.”

Colorado’s online and retail sportsbooks took in $244.5n in April, down 18.8 per cent from $300.1m in bets in March, according to data released Tuesday afternoon by the Colorado Division of Gaming. The state’s official tally is slightly less than the unaudited data that was reported by the Division of Gaming earlier this month.

Bettors placed $8.1m bets per day in April, down from $9.7m per day in March. Those bets led to $17.6m in gross gaming revenue, down 13.8 per cent from $20.4m in March. Promotional credits worth $6.4m whittled net sports betting proceeds to $10.5m, yielding $1.1m in tax revenue.

From the industry’s launch on May 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021, Colorado sportsbooks generated $2.3bn in wagers.

“The outlying metric continues to be the state’s take, which may yet need to be adjusted to ensure that the industry is working for every stakeholder,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayColorado. “Still, considering the circumstances of its launch, the first year of sports betting in Colorado was a success.”

A drop in wagering was to be expected with the lighter sports schedule. Every state with legal sports betting has reported a month-over-month decline in April wagering. Of the largest sports betting markets in the US that have already reported April data, Indiana (down 25.4 per cent), Iowa (down 26.7 per cent), and Michigan (down 30.5 per cent) all experienced a more dramatic month-over-month decline than Colorado, though New Jersey (down 13 per cent), Tennessee (down 13.6 per cent), and Pennsylvania (down 14.4 per cent) were modestly better.

The NBA remained king in April, which has been the case in most markets. Betting reached $84.3m, down from $106.9m in March. Baseball betting in the season’s first month was second with $48.3m, a total likely dampened by the struggles of the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Avalanche propelled hockey betting to No. 3, with $10.6m, while table tennis ($9m) continued to show atypical popularity.

“Colorado’s unique mix of betting interests does help flatten some of the seasonal swings that some other major markets experience,” St. Clair said. “If the Nuggets and Avalanche can make deep playoff runs and the Olympics pique interest, Colorado stands a good chance of avoiding the worst of the typical summer swoon.”

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