One question has loomed over this state since May.
Why can’t Colorado quit Russian table tennis?
In the year of 2020, it’s the question of our time. At least when it comes to the Colorado sports betting market.
It’s been obvious since sports betting launched that this state has an affinity for the sport made famous by Forrest Gump. The fact Colorado is unique and weird is not entirely unique and weird. Coloradans typically do their own thing.
But table tennis? Even when the sports world was somewhat back to “normal” in October?
The month’s sports betting handle suggests an emphatic “yes.”
In terms of the sports wagered, table tennis was in the top five with $9.3 million. That topped soccer, MMA, real tennis, golf and hockey.
Not to be outdone, but it happened again in November.
This time, table tennis was in the top three after the NFL and NCAA football with $12.4 million in wagers.
What is the deal with Colorado sports betting and table tennis?
PlayColorado set out to get the answers.
Not only did various experts weigh in, someone who actually bets on the sport did so as well. For those unaware, someone admitting to betting on the sport is the equivalent of spotting a Sasquatch.
In Colorado, that’s Jackson Wieger.
“When sports betting got legalized in May, most sports had shut down, and the people here in Colorado who were really itching to bet only had Russian table tennis and a few other things. And I think a lot of people like myself found it surprisingly fun. Quick, easy bets that pay out after a 10-15 minute match. The timing of it made it a cornerstone of mobile bets, even when sports roared back, so there is the base of loyal bettors that have stuck around since May. If COVID had not happened, no one would care at all about table tennis.”
As a writer and content strategist at DenverSportsBetting.com, he said he typically makes three bets a day.
In terms of table tennis, he said he makes three bets a week.
“When sports betting was legalized back in May, almost all of my bets were on table tennis.”
Betting on table tennis brings new adventure
Wieger is someone who has followed the sports betting industry for three to four years. Did he ever imagine he would bet on Russian table tennis?
“Honestly, no, I didn’t think I would ever bet (on) table tennis. I’ve been about as successful with table tennis as anything else like NBA, NFL; hovering slightly above 50%. No, I’m not an expert at all. As far as I know, there’s really no media sources or insights to who’s the hot bet. It almost makes it more fun when it’s a mystery. No ‘experts’ pulling you in any direction to influence your bet, just strictly you.”
For those in Colorado, specifically Denver Broncos fans, you’ve probably heard Benjamin Allbright on the airwaves for Broncos Country Tonight at KOA News Radio 850. Allbright and his co-host Ryan Edwards have become a hit with the Denver faithful for their fun and insightful show.
Allbright is also a regular sports bettor, especially when it comes to NFL betting.
So, why is table tennis so popular? As Allbright told PlayColorado:
“My personal belief is when wagering became legal here there were limited options. COVID had killed many sports at the time, so people went where the action was, and then just stuck with it. I have nothing to back that though, other than anecdotal evidence.”
Secondary betting options remain popular
Johnny Avello, DraftKings sportsbook director of operations, agrees with Allbright.
Given he’s been a bookmaker for 40 years, give or take, if anyone has an answer on this, it’s Avello.
As he told PlayColorado:
“DraftKings is proud to offer our customers a wide range of regulated sports betting markets for US and international sports, leagues and competitions. When major sports went on hiatus earlier this year, we saw tremendous interest in non-traditional sports and offerings. While sports such as the NFL, MLB, NBA and golf remain most popular with customers, we’ve seen a number continue to engage with secondary options alongside traditional major sports, in Colorado and across active sportsbook states.”
Colorado and table tennis similar to Australia and racing
Patrick Eichner, director of communications for PointsBet, compared what is happening in Colorado sports betting to a phenomenon in Australia.
“The Aussies, for example, love racing. Regardless if it’s standard horse racing, harness, or greyhound racing. And one of the reasons greyhound racing is so popular there is it’s the epitome of instant gratification. It’s 15 seconds, and the race is done. Regardless of whether you won or lost, you know your results immediately. You know if you want to have another play right away. If you want to reinvest and keep riding the hot streak, or it’s time to sit out for a couple.
Table tennis is very similar in that sense. Those matches take all of, what, 12-20 minutes? You kind of instantly know your result. You get a feel for your result pretty early on in terms of how the flow of the match is going. And there’s an opportunity to, if you want to keep playing, keep playing all day long because you’re running on Russian time zones. There are hundreds of matches essentially non-stop throughout our entire day.”
Betting table tennis is also a great way to prepare for the bigger bets later in the day.
As Eichner said:
“If you’re waiting for an 8:30 p.m. EST Monday Night Football kickoff, if you want to have a bet prior to it, there are literally hundreds of opportunities for you to go ahead and do so via table tennis. So it’s kind of a perfect storm of all of those things.”
At least one person isn’t in on the craze
Unlike Wieger, Allbright has no interest in joining the Russian table tennis craze.
“I’m in the business of making money off wagering. It doesn’t ‘make anything more exciting or interesting’ for me. I’m cold and calculated on things I know.”
Is table tennis in Colorado here for good?
Now the key question: Is Colorado sports betting and table tennis here to stay? Or is this just a nine-month fling?
Since it’s been so long, it seems this relationship is pretty serious.
As Eichner said:
“I think it’s fair to assume that there will be some sort of dwindle. But at the same time, not to cop out and take a middle answer, I do absolutely think it has lasting power. Whether or not it can remain within the top five, we’ll see how it continues to progress. But I think regardless, it will absolutely remain a pretty substantial driver.”