Colorado sports betting spikes in September, but state’s share slides


Colorado’s sports bettors dramatically increased their wagering handle in September but the state’s share of this action shrank due to operators’ overly generous online bonus offers.

Figures released Friday by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming show the state’s licensed bookmakers generated betting turnover of over $207.6m in September, up 61% from August’s total and a new record for the market.

Sadly, while betting revenue totaled just under $4.2m, the state’s share came to less than $70k as the $3.76m in gross online betting revenue was offset by -$3.79m in ‘net sports betting proceeds,’ meaning the only taxable revenue was the $394m brought in by the state’s retail sportsbooks.

The report doesn’t state as such, but the online negativity is presumably the result of operators’ loss-leading bonus offers to bettors who may only now be activating wagering accounts in tandem with the kickoff of NFL action. A similar dynamic played out in Pennsylvania earlier this week.

Thing is, legal sports betting was pitched to Colorado voters as a means of funding state water projects, with the threat of $29m in new taxes if betting wasn’t approved. September’s $69k in state proceeds was down from $189k in August and from $242k in July, so taxpayers might want to budget for an unwelcome surprise come next year’s state budget. Or, you know, stop consuming water.

Despite the NFL’s return, it was baseball that led September’s betting handle chart with $47.1m, while football ranked second with $38.6m, just ahead of basketball at $37.8m. Parlay wagers ranked fourth with $28.2m and ‘other’ sports took fifth with $20.7m.

Meanwhile, way down in Mississippi, the state’s retail-only betting market generated handle of $52.2m in September, up 37.7% year-on-year and 29% better than August 2020’s total. Betting revenue rose $1m year-on-year to $6.6m, as the lack of online operations negated the need to entice bettors with ‘come hither’ freebies.

In Arkansas, the state’s three licensed retail betting operators reported handle of just under $4m in September, nearly four times greater than the sum reported in August (during which Oaklawn Park was the only operator open following the pandemic shutdown of gaming operations earlier this year). Betting revenue totaled $397k, up from just $69,625 in August.