When sports betting in Colorado launched on May 1, there was excitement.
That was true despite the fact major US sports were on hiatus and Colorado casinos remained closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was excitement because it was just about the only form of entertainment to serve as a distraction. Even if the only sports that fans could wager on were Russian table tennis, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), and darts.
The initial sports betting numbers released by the Colorado Division of Gaming on Thursday seem to reflect that excitement.
First month of betting generated $25.5M in handle
Colorado’s online sportsbooks took $25.5 million in bets for May, according to state officials.
Those are pretty big numbers for a state’s first month with limited sports.
Keep in mind just six sportsbooks were operating in Colorado in May, and only four for most of the month.
“The COVID-19 epidemic forced us to adjust our thought process on anticipating revenues given the closing of casinos combined with the cessation of professional, organized sporting events,” said Dan Hartman, the director of the Division of Gaming. “The total amount wagered in May … is an encouraging predictor of the potential for the Colorado sports betting landscape. They show a bright future for the Colorado sports betting market.”
It’s also consistent with other states right now. Indiana, which launched online betting last fall, generated around $46 million in bets in April. New Jersey, which is a more mature market, collected $54.6 million in bets.
As more sports and leagues inch closer to their return, those sports betting numbers in Colorado should only increase over the next few months.
“We know of a few retail operators that will be opening as soon as the casino opens,” Suzanne Karrer said. She is the communications manager of the Enforcement Division for the Department of Revenue. “We also have an additional 18 approved internet operators, out of the 25 licensed, who are planning to open in Colorado. Some even as early as July. These openings, along with the re-introduction of professional sporting events, make us optimistic about future revenues.”
Colorado sports betting should get boost from NBA/NHL return
That is especially true if the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets are able to recapture their strong seasons.
On Thursday, the NBA’s Board of Governors voted to approve the league’s 22-team format to finish the season. That will restart the 2019-20 NBA season in Orlando.
The NHL also announced it put the finishing touches on the return-to-play-plan.
As Pierre LeBrun tweeted, all four Stanley Cup playoff rounds will be series that are best-of-seven. The play-in round is a best-of-five.
Teams will reseed after each round, instead of a bracket format.
LeBrun added that Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (games/hubs/protocol) are in the preliminary phase and are still in negotiations.
Given the first month’s handle of sports betting in Colorado, the needle is definitely pointing up for the future.