Colorado sets another sports betting handle record in October

Posted By Ian St. Clair on November 30, 2020 - Last Updated on December 1, 2020

The first six months of sports betting in Colorado has been a fascinating ride.

There’s nothing like launching a new market amidst a global pandemic. In the process, all major U.S. sports were cancelled.

Colorado sports betting launches and there are no major sports to wager on — sounds like 2020.

Slowly but surely sports and the sports betting world came back to normal. By late July and August, the big four had started their seasons or were about to begin.

Then the Colorado Department of Revenue releases the September handle and the tax revenue makes news for how small the number is.

Was this a fluke or the start of a pattern?

The October sports betting handle seems to indicate it was a blip.

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

“As this industry grows, it reminds us how different it is and how it may be as difficult to predict the tax revenue as it relies on games and matches ultimate outcomes. We are glad to see our best month of tax revenues so far. As we can see from the differences between September and October, where the total wagered was relatively the same, tax collections reflect the fluctuations in successfully predicting sports.”

Colorado sports betting sets another record

Colorado’s online and retail sportsbooks surged to a new high again in October, capitalizing on a sports schedule that resembled a more normal month than in any other since the Centennial State launched sports betting in May.

Colorado’s sportsbooks attracted $210.7 million in bets in October, according to data released on Monday by the Division of Gaming. That’s a slight increase from the $207.7 million in September.

The state generated $17.4 million in gross gaming revenue, which was up from the $4.2 million in September.

As for the tax revenue, October’s winnings yielded $824,700 in taxes for the state, a 91.5% increase over September. It’s also the largest amount collected since sports betting launched in May.

Which sportsbooks are leading the Colorado market?

This while fresh proprietary estimates from gaming researchers Eilers & Krejcik Gaming and obtained by PlayColorado show that sportsbook heavyweights DraftKings and FanDuel have so far captured the vast majority of the Colorado market.

Eilers and Krejcik estimates show that DraftKings and FanDuel have generated 84% of Colorado’s gross gaming revenue since the market launched in May. Both of the sports-betting behemoths launched on May 1 when the market officially opened.

According to the proprietary estimates:

  • DraftKings has captured 46% of the online market in terms of gross gaming revenue since the market launched in May. That would equal more than $18 million through October.
  • FanDuel has generated 38% of gross gaming revenue since the launch. That would be more than $15 million through October.

What sports did Colorado wager on?

While the tax revenue fluctuates, where the handle comes from does not.

The revenue pie continues to grow primarily because of online betting. That produced $206.4 million of October’s wagers. That was up from the $203.9 million of September’s handle. All retail and online bets netted $9.6 million in betting proceeds, a jump from a $3.4 million loss in September.

Even with the struggles of the Denver Broncos, the NFL was easily the most popular bet in October. Users betting on the Broncos and the league attracted $67.9 million in action, up from $38.6 million in September.

With the World Series, baseball managed to draw $23 million in bets. And college football, aided by the return of Colorado State and Air Force, jumped to $16.5 million in October from just $3.8 million in September.

Something to keep an eye on is how much that number jumps because of the start of the University of Colorado football season. The Buffs are now 3-0 and put the rest of the Pac-12 on notice.

And yet again, table tennis is still in the top five of sports by total wager.

Here’s the top five for October:

  • NFL $67.9 million
  • Baseball $23 million
  • NCAA football $16.5 million
  • Basketball $12.7 million
  • Table tennis $9.3 million
Wagers by sportTotal handleOnline handleRetail handleRevenue (GGR)
NFL $67,982,612$65,898,747$2,083,865$3,234, 245
NCAA Football$16,523,665$15,767,743$755,922$513,031
Table Tennis$9,346,381$9,341,131$5,250$490,598
Other $28,514,954$28,459,355$55,600$353,874

Colorado’s October handle comes up short of its neck-and-neck battle with Indiana, which attracted $230.9 million, to place just outside the top five of the nation’s largest markets. That puts the state behind New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and rapidly expanding Illinois.

After a hectic start to sports betting in Colorado, the first normal month for the market yielded the best handle yet. With it, the tax revenue for the state jumped as well.

Both are positive signs for the months to come.

Photo by AP / Jack Dempsey
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Ian St. Clair

Ian St. Clair is an award-winning sports journalist. He is a University of Northern Colorado graduate, Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. Ian does a segment each Saturday on Klahr and Kompany on Denver radio station ESPN 1600 AM.

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