March Madness helped Colorado sportsbooks take in more than $300m in wagers, bouncing back from February’s decline to post the second-highest volume month in the state’s first year of sports betting. The month was enough to push lifetime handle in Colorado past $2 billion, becoming the sixth US state to reach the milestone just 11 months after launching.
“With the NCAA Tournament, a return to growth is no surprise, but it is still good to see after a bit of a relatively disappointing month,” said Ian St. Clair, analyst for PlayColorado. “Considering the circumstances Colorado launched under, at a time when major US sports were dormant, the state really has been one the U.S. sports betting industry’s great success stories.”
Colorado’s online and retail sportsbooks accepted $300.1m in bets in March, according to data released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming. That was up 12.9 per cent from $266.5m in bets in February, though short of the record $326.9m set in January. Bettors placed about $9.7m bets per day in March, up from $9.5m in February.
March’s bets led to $20.4m in gross gaming revenue, nearly doubling the $10.4m generated in February.
Eleven months after the launch of sports betting, Colorado sportsbooks have now taken in more than $2.1bn in bets.
But as successful as Colorado’s launch of sports betting has been, the state’s tax revenue continues to lag. March’s bets yielded $10.6m in net sports betting proceeds, after $9m in promotional credits whittled down the month’s win. That produced $1.1m in state taxes, well above February’s $175,275.
Since launching, sportsbooks have injected $5.6m into state coffers. Compare that to Indiana, Colorado’s closest competitor in terms of market size. In March, Indiana collected $2.5m in state taxes on $316.7m in bets.
“Those promotional credits have been a nagging issue that has really kept the state from realising its full tax revenue potential,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayColorado.com. “On the optimistic side, it could be just that it takes time to work through those credits from the heavy promotion in the state industry’s early days. But if tax revenue remains lackluster, the issue may need to be fixed.”
With the bulk of the NCAA Tournament in March, which included two Colorado games, college basketball betting jumped to $71m in bets for the month, which was up from $39.6m in February. But with the Denver Nuggets surging in March, pro basketball remained the most popular bet with $106.9m.
The Stanley Cup favorite Colorado Avalanche have helped spike interest in hockey, too, growing to $13.8m in March from $9.5m in February, topping tennis ($10.9m), soccer ($8.9m) and even table tennis ($8.8m), a uniquely Colorado favorite.
“Most markets are locally driven, so when local teams do well, betting interest rises. But nowhere is that more pronounced than in Colorado,” St. Clair said. “Without a significant population from a neighboring state to draw bets from, Colorado’s market is more locally driven than most. But operators in the state continue to be innovative in the ways that they appeal to Colorado’s bettors.”