March Madness Betting Boosts Colorado to $300 Million Handle

Written By Ian St. Clair on 04/27/2021 - Last Updated on April 30, 2021

Colorado sports betting has topped another major milestone.

The state has brought in over $2 billion in handle. Yes, you read that number correctly. In the 11 months since sports betting launched here, bettors have put up $2 billion. The Centennial State is the sixth market in the U.S. to reach that milestone.

The reason Colorado was able to pass that threshold is the strong month of March. March Madness betting helped Colorado sportsbooks bring in over $300 million in bets. That not only bounces back from the dip in February, but also becomes the second-largest betting month in the market’s young history.

One of the reasons college basketball betting was so popular was the University of Colorado advanced to the second round of the Men’s NCAA Tournament. The Buffs played in two games and came oh so close to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1969.

And since we’re talking about Colorado, you have to mention table tennis betting. Once again, it was in the top 10 (more on that later).

March sports betting handle

Colorado sports betting online and retail sportsbooks combined to take in $300.9 million in bets for March, according to numbers released by the Colorado Division of Gaming on Tuesday. The March handle did fall a bit short of the record $326.9 million set in January.

That was up from the $266.5 million in bets in February. That was the lowest monthly handle since the $284.6 million in December. But back to the reason you’re here.

Of those bets in March, $295.2 million were made online. That accounts for 98% of the betting action in the state, while only 2%, or $5.8 million, came from retail sportsbooks.

Sportsbooks generated $20.4 million in gross gaming revenue, an increase from the drop of $10.4 million in February.

March’s gross gaming revenue yielded $10.6 million in net sports betting proceeds, a significant boost from the $175,274 in February.

The March handle produced just $1 million in state taxes. That’s well above the $332,227 in state taxes for February, but still incredibly minuscule.

It’s the tax number, and how small it is, that has been a key area of emphasis and criticism. Of that $2 billion in handle, sportsbooks have added just $5.5 million in taxes to the state.

If you compare that to Indiana, Colorado’s closest competitor in terms of market size, you see why this is an issue. In March, Indiana’s $316.7 million in bets led to $2.5 million in state taxes.

As Dan Hartman, director for the Division of Gaming, said in the release:

“These large totals posted month-over-month show us that Coloradans are embracing this new form of entertainment. We look forward to what will emerge in the market moving forward, as more and more sporting leagues resume a regular schedule of play and what that will translate into returns for Coloradans.”

Top sports wagered on

While March Madness is a key piece to the March handle, NBA betting remains the driver.

For the third-straight month, the NBA was the most wagered sport in Colorado. One of the main reasons is Nikola Jokić and the special season he’s having. The Denver Nuggets center is the favorite to get the NBA MVP — from a Nuggets betting perspective, and just about every other perspective.

And while the loss of Jamal Murray is massive, the Nuggets keep finding ways to win games. How they do in the NBA Playoffs is up in the air, especially if how it sits right now plays out. That means the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Of course there’s also the Stanley Cup-favorite Colorado Avalanche. After getting $13 million in February, NHL betting drew $13.7 million in March. Keep an eye on Avalanche betting, especially if Colorado makes a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and most of the fans can finally watch the games).

Perhaps the most surprising addition to the top five is tennis. Actual, real tennis. Have the table tennis bettors graduated to the big leagues?

Speaking of which, old reliable table tennis is still in the top 10. It was actually just outside the top 5, at No. 6 with $8.8 million.

Top sports wagered on

Here are the top five wagered sports for March:

  1. NBA 106.9 million
  2. NCAA basketball 70.9 million
  3. Hockey $13.8 million
  4. Tennis $10.9 million
  5. Soccer $8.9 million
Wagers by sportTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleRevenue (GGR)
Pro Basketball$106,933,604$103,706,622$3,226,982$2,037,683
NCAA Basketball$70,956,812$69,679,801$1,277,011$4,366,068
Table Tennis$8,841,600$8,826,398$15,202$641,995
Photo by AP / Michael Conroy
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Ian St. Clair

Ian is an award-winning sports journalist and a University of Northern Colorado graduate. He’s a Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. He broke into the gambling industry right as Colorado launched legal sports betting in 2020. Ian now manages the sites for some of the biggest gambling markets in North America and is an analyst for PlayColorado.

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