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December’s Haul Puts Colorado in Some Rarified Air

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December’s Haul Puts Colorado in Some Rarified Air
Bettors review their bets. Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP

The state of Colorado continues to exceed expectations with regards to its legal sports betting platform. Launched in May, at the worst possible time and in the middle of a COVID-19 crisis that has gripped the US, the Colorado sports betting scene has been a true and great coronavirus success story.

With yet another record-handle in December, Colorado, which is currently 21st in population in the US, became just the sixth state to surpass the $1 billion in terms of yearly handle, despite having no platform for the first four months of the year, with global sport cancellations and limited casino capacity due to COVID-19. With no tangible ceiling for the industry in the Rocky Mountain State, it remains to be seen if Colorado sports betting will continue its climb or if it has hit its peek.

First, a Look at December

Just when Colorado looked as though their legal sports betting platform was showing signs of levelling off, another month comes along that totally blows away the previous one. Case in point – December.

The Colorado Division of Gaming on Tuesday reported that Colorado’s 20 sportsbooks took in a record-$284.6 million in December, an eye-opening 23% increase over November’s $231.2 million. It represents the eighth straight month that the state has increased its monthly sports betting handle.

Colorado’s mobile apps were responsible for $280.4 million of the $284.6 million handle or an incredible 98.6% of the overall take. That is a 23.6% increase from November according to the Department of Revenue’s monthly figures.

Revenues and tax contributions to state and local coffers unfortunately didn’t follow the trend of increases. Gross gaming revenue came in 6.5% short of a state record in December, with $17.2m in profits. November’s figure was $18.4 million. Net revenues also showed a marked decrease – from $9 million in November to $5.7 million in December.

Total taxes collected in December fell to $531,489 from the record-$793,820 in November. That is based on Colorado’s rather industry-friendly 10% tax rate.

And Now for the Yearly Totals

Colorado’s legal sports betting scene was officially welcomed into the elite class of legal sports betting states with their December figures. For the COVID- ravaged year, the state reported $1.2 billion in wagers and became the sixth state in the nation to reach the magical $1 billion plateau.

“Hitting the $1 billion mark is a milestone event for the department, leading us to believe that the trust and competition in the industry are leading bettors from the black market to the regulated market,” said Dan Hartman, director of the Colorado Division of Gaming. “We believe the legal marketplace is having and will continue to have a positive impact on Colorado.”

$1.17 billion, of the $1.2 billion overall 2020 handle came from its mobile betting sector. $75.8 million in gross gaming revenue was generated from legal sports betting in Colorado in 2020 with $28.3 million in net betting proceeds. Off of that, state and local coffers received $3,418,818 in taxes, $2.2 million of which came in the last four months of 2020 alone.

Football Continues to Dominate

Colorado’s betting handles continue to be dominated by Football, both NFL and College. Pigskin contributed $88.2 million towards December’s handle while pro basketball was responsible for $42.9 million and college basketball at $35.2 million. With football quickly coming to a close, it will be tough for the industry to keep the pace after February 6 when the Super Bowl will be played.

It wouldn’t be right to not give a shout out to table tennis betting. That little niche market has kept Colorado’ legal sports betting platform afloat at times and generated $63.5 million in 2020 – $11 million in December alone.

The 2021 Crystal Ball

Looking ahead to 2021, Colorado looks to be in great shape, within the “Top-6” most successful sports betting states.

“I am thrilled to see the success of Colorado’s regulated sports betting program, especially coming out of a turbulent year,” Mark Ferrandino, executive director for the Colorado Department of Revenue, said in the release. “As we look to 2021, we are focused on continuing our collaborative stakeholder engagement to remain poised for success.”

With SuperBook USA, 888sport and Stockholm-based Betsson coming on board in the state and with Barstool Sportsbook looking to set up shop, it is clear that operators see the value the Colorado market.

$1.2 billion in bets during eight COVID-crazed months set quite a bar for the state of Colorado, one they hope to exceed during a full year of sports in 2021.