Pac-12 And Mountain West Football Is Back: What Does That Mean For Sports Betting In Colorado?

Written By Ian St. Clair on 09/29/2020 - Last Updated on January 7, 2022

As if you need another reminder that it is, in fact, 2020, you got it last week.

That’s when the announcements came that the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences will play football this year. The Pac-12 will also have basketball return.

That’s a reversal from both conferences’ decision to postpone football in mid-August.

The Pac-12, six-game football season starts on Nov. 6, and college basketball starts on Nov. 25.

The MWC, eight-game football season begins on Oct. 24. There’s still no official word on the status of college basketball, though most seem to think that the conference will play hoops in the winter.

At least for now, the Colorado sports betting market gets to wager on the local teams after all.

Of course, since it’s 2020, this is subject to change at any point.

As David Farahi, the COO of Monarch Casino and Resort. that runs BetMonarch, told PlayColorado:

“There are definitely people who only care about college sports. They only care about their hometown teams or sports, those are the only games they watch. So it should bring an incremental audience.”

The return of major sports has already aided the CO sports betting market.

The August handle got a massive boon from the return of MLB, the NBA and NHL. Since the NFL kicked off earlier this month, one would expect that number to jump. Even though the Denver Broncos are off to a rough start as the injuries pile up, betting on the Broncos will be at or near the top of the September handle.

College football’s impact on Colorado sports betting

But what about college football?

What is the potential impact on the Colorado market?

As Farahi noted, some fans only care about the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Air Force and the University of Wyoming (there are a ton of Cowboys fans across the Front Range).

Now that football is back, that only adds to the potential pot of customers who could partake in sports betting.

This is where it’s crucial to point out that Colorado doesn’t allow prop bets on college sports. In other words, any wagers that are determined by the play of an individual player. But don’t fret because there’s still plenty to bet on when it comes to college football and sports.

According to Andrew Mannino, the senior sports content analyst at PointsBet:

“It’s always good for bettors when we have major teams participating. Especially after the way this year has gone, to have the Pac-12 back in action is going to continue to get people excited. For Colorado football fans, it’s a great time to get ready for football in the fall.”

Decision also affects PointsBet/CU agreement

While PointsBet hasn’t launched in Colorado yet, one huge impact of the Pac-12’s decision is the recent partnership the sportsbook has with CU.

There were questions over how that agreement would work since football and basketball were postponed.

Now that they’re back, the sportsbook will get to use some of the benefits of that deal, even though fans won’t be in attendance at Folsom Field. The Pac-12 will not have fans in attendance for sports. As for the MWC, fans being allowed into the stadiums will be determined by individual schools in compliance with their local and state governments.

The huge benefit for PointsBet will come in the form of prominent displays visible on the broadcasts.

That means extra eyes on PointsBet and people who may get intrigued to know more about the company, especially when it launches in Colorado.

PointsBet reached an agreement with Double Eagle Casino in Cripple Creek in late July 2019. That was one of the first partnership announcements in the state.

As Mannino said:

“There’s certainly a delegate of fans who would have been pretty heartbroken to miss out on all of that college betting opportunity. With this shortened season and the way 2020 has been going, it’s going to be tough for any Pac-12 teams to really break into the CFP (College Football Playoffs). It’s always tough for them to break into the CFP, but with less games, it’s going to be even tougher and really require a dominant performance to get into the national spotlight.”

Expectations remain high

Since Colorado has never offered sports betting, it’s hard to know what impact Pac-12 and Mountain West football and basketball will have on the market.

But since table tennis has been in the top 10 for sports betting revenue since the launch on May 1, it’s safe to say the expectations should be high.

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

“It is great to see the return of college football, especially for our Colorado teams, even with a truncated playing season. We look forward to seeing how this return to play translates into sports wagers in the next few months as well as what the wagers will look like when sports schedules return to a traditional sports calendar.”

Added Farahi:

“As you would expect, the more games the better. It’s just more action. More things to get people excited. More games to get people to bet on. So it’s a pretty straight-forward benefit.”

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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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