Notable Numbers From the First 2 Years of Colorado Sports Betting

Written By Ken Pomponio on 06/04/2022 - Last Updated on July 11, 2022
Colorado 2-year sports betting review 060422

The Colorado Division of Gaming last week released its April sports wagering revenue report.

That gives us two complete years of figures and data from sports betting in Colorado.

There’s a lot to take from the raw numbers. More than anything, they show a pattern of consistent growth and prosperity since legalized sports wagering went live on May 1, 2020.

PlayColorado keeps a running tally of the pertinent figures here.

And with no shortage of data points and stats to choose from, following are seven of more notable numbers we gleaned from the first 24 months of Centennial State sports betting.

First, though, a warning: There is plenty of math contained in the ensuing paragraphs.

But the good news is we’ve done most of it.

Here goes, starting with …

$6,945,433,171

That’s the cumulative two-year total sports betting handle (total amount wagered) in Colorado since its inception.

And, yes, for those not used to large numbers, that is roughly $6.95 billion.

It’s a healthy average of $289.4 million per month.

As near as we can figure, only four other U.S. states — New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Illinois — have a higher total handle over that same two-year span.

New York, with a $6.23 billion handle, is catching up fast.

Of course that only includes four months worth of data as legalized online sports betting only began this January in the Empire State.

But that’s to be expected from the nation’s fourth-most populous state at 20.2 million (2020 U.S. census).

By contrast, Colorado ranked 21st in 2020 with 5.8 million residents.

7

As in the number of months Colorado’s handle has exceeded $400 million.

September 2021 was the first of those months with $408.3 million in total wagers.

In fact, the other six $400 mil months followed in calendar order, running through March.

Included here was January’s $573.7 million handle — the state’s high-water month to date.

Here are Colorado’s seven $400 million total wager months, ranked in order from the largest on down:

  • January 2022: $573.7M
  • March 2022: $505.6M
  • October 2021: $491.5M
  • November 2021: $475.4M
  • December 2021: $461.4M
  • February 2022: $440.5M
  • September 2021: $408.3M

$17,723,639

This is the key number for Colorado.

And it is — as you may have guessed — the total amount of state tax dollars collected from sports betting since May 2020.

The tax rate on sports wagering in Colorado is a flat 10 percent of sportsbooks’ net sports betting proceeds.

NSBPs are calculated by deducting the amount of free or promotional bets — and the .25 percent federal excise tax — from sportsbooks’ gross gaming revenue (total handle minus bettors’ total winnings).  

Over the last two years, Colorado sportsbooks’ free/promotional bet write-offs have averaged 3.16 percent of their total handle.

With the expected passage of the Responsible Gaming Grant Program bill, the amount of those free bet deductions would be capped at 2.5 percent of the total handle, starting in 2023.

That percentage would be reduced incrementally over the next four years until it reaches 1.75 percent in 2026.

Do the math.

With the handle only increasing (see below) that’s going to mean more sports betting tax dollars for Colorado.

87.95%

Over the first four months this year, this has been the state’s average fiscal year handle increase over the same period in 2020-21.

For example, take the figures from Colorado’s April sports betting revenue report. 

Fiscal year total wagers from July 2021-April 2022 were $4.1 billion. That was a 83.2 percent jump from the July 2020-April 2021 total.

In January, the corresponding year-over-year fiscal year figures saw a whopping 93.5 percent jump.

Those percentages will gradually come down and level off. 

Still, even a steady growth of 10-20 percent would be nothing short of impressive.

6

Here’s the number of months a sport other than pro basketball or pro football has paced the Centennial State in betting handle.

Baseball has done it four times, most recently last August with $69.6 million in wagers.

The other two?

Table tennis, of course — Colorado’s favorite niche sport to bet on.

Those two months also were the first two in the state’s sports betting annals: May and June 2020. 

The COVID-19 pandemic opened that door with North America’s major pro and college sports leagues on hiatus that spring.

In May 2020, table tennis led the barren board with $6.6 million in wagers. Then, the ensuing month, it featured a handle of $9.1 million.

As for the betting heavyweights, the NBA has paced Colorado 11 times in monthly handle. That includes all four months so far this year.

The NFL, meanwhile, has topped the state list in the remaining seven months, owning October, November and December in 2020 and ’21.

6.20%

This is the two-year/lifetime hold percentage for Colorado sportsbooks.

So what’s a hold percentage, you ask?

It’s sportsbooks’ total revenue divided by the total handle. 

And, from the bettors’ perspective, the lower that percentage, the more success they’re having.

According to the latest U.S. sports betting figures tallied at our sister site, Legal Sports Report, that 6.2 hold percentage is the third lowest among the site’s 26 tracked states since June 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for legalized nationwide sports betting.

The only two lower percentages are found in Nevada (5.69) and Iowa (6.0). And the national hold percentage during that span sits at 7.0.

So, Centennial State bettors, take a bow.

You’ve been among the most successful in the nation.

2

Finally, this is the number of months (out of 22) that Colorado’s online handle percentage has dipped below 98.0 since we first tracked it in July 2020.

That online percentage consistently ranks among the highest figures in the nation. 

Naturally, the COVID-addled months of 2020 and ’21 certainly helped boost that online percentage. During a number of those months, the sate’s brick-and-mortar casinos were either completely shuttered or operating at less than full capacity.

However, Colorado’s online percentage handle hasn’t been below 98.5 in the last five months. And in April, in fact, it reached an all-time state high of 99.2 percent.

In short, that means Coloradans do an overwhelming amount of their sports wagering via apps and/or online as opposed to betting at retail sportsbooks.

And with Colorado boasting a U.S.-most 27 online sportsbooks, that figure is hardly surprising.

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Ken Pomponio

Ken is a fourth-generation Coloradan and career sports journalist with more than 30 years covering the gamut from the preps to the pros. A lifelong Front Range resident and son of 1960s Denver Broncos season-ticket holders, he is a long-time sports betting enthusiast whose insight and passion shine through in his coverage at PlayColorado.

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