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Analysts: Colorado sports betting numbers show great promise

26 Aug 2020

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Colorado's sportsbooks got an injection of life with the return of baseball and the NBA in July, nearly attracting as much in wagers as the industry's first two months combined and firmly establishing itself as a Top 5 U.S. market. And with new operators coming online and a packed August sports schedule, the Centennial State's sports betting industry is beginning to realize its potential, according to PlayColorado analysts.

"It only took a few days of basketball and baseball games in July to show the demand that is out there in Colorado for sports betting," said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayColorado. "In just three months, Colorado has established itself as the fifth-largest sports betting market in the U.S, and the number of sportsbook operators in the state is growing rapidly. And with a robust August schedule that includes playoff runs by the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, the short-term outlook for the state is excellent."

Online and retail sportsbooks combined to generate $59.2 million in wagers, up 55.2% from $38.1 million in June, according to official reporting released Wednesday. July's handle resulted in $2.4 million in net betting proceeds — up 11.4% from $2.2 million in June — producing $241,867 in state taxes. Limited to online betting on fringe sports through June, Colorado's sportsbooks had combined to take in $63.8 million in wagers, yielding $3.1 million in net proceeds, during the industry's first two months.

Colorado's July handle was the fifth largest among legal U.S. jurisdictions, closely trailing No. 4 Indiana, which generated $70.9 million in July.

Table tennis had generated $15.7 million in bets in the first two months, by far the favorite sport among bettors in the state. That changed in July when baseball attracted $9.2 million in bets and soccer took in another $7.6 million. With just a few days of NBA games, basketball attracted $3.2 million in bets. Meanwhile, interest in table tennis waned, yet still yielded $5.1 million in wagers.

The addition of hockey in August, and the looming NFL season, only adds to the sudden bounty of sports.

"The success of the sports betting industry in keeping bettors engaged with fringe sports like table tennis cannot be understated, but there isn't any substitute for football, basketball, baseball, and hockey," Gouker said. "As robust as August looks right now, though, the future remains tenuous. College football will likely not be played this fall in Colorado, though perhaps elsewhere in the U.S. And the NFL is still working out its plans. So while the news is good, sports betting is still at the mercy of the pandemic."

Even with the opening of Colorado's first retail sportsbooks, online sports betting accounted for $58.6 million, or 99%, of the state's July handle. Sports bettors have a growing array of choices to place bets, with a roster of online sportsbooks that has grown to 11.

"Reasonable operator fees, a relatively large population base, an abundance of sports fans, and a generally operator-friendly regulatory framework have all made the Colorado market attractive in the eyes of major U.S. and European operators," Gouker said. "And unlike a state like New Jersey that already had a mature gaming industry when sportsbooks first launched, Colorado is a relatively open market. In many ways, it's ideal for operators of all kinds to enter."
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