Sports Betting in CO Makes $3.8 Billion Handle in First Full Year

Data from Colorado regulator shows gross gaming revenue broke the $250 million mark, averaging $20.8 million per month in 2021, with over 98% of all bets placed via online sportsbooks
Larimer St in Denver. Cars line the street and hundreds of small Colorado flags hang above. 2021 was a breakout year for the Colorado sports betting industry. Data shows Coloradoans are big fans of pro basketball & pro football, placing more bets on those
February 10, 2022

Colorado sports betting hit a Rocky Mountain High in 2021, its first full calendar year.

Data from the Colorado Division of Gaming (CDOG) shows sportsbooks generated $250.1 million in gross gaming revenue in 2021, while sports bettors drove a $3.8 billion handle. Revenue more than tripled and handle more than doubled year-over-year, although it’s important to note that the market was only active for eight months of 2020.

According to the CDOG, net sports betting proceeds totaled $103.6 million in 2021, up from $28.3 million in 2020. Colorado generated $11.7 million in tax revenue from sports betting in 2021, compared to less than $3 million in 2020.

Of the $3.8 billion handle generated in 2021, more than 98% came from online sports betting — retail handle totaled $61.8 million. With an $8.3 million handle, February was the best month of 2021 for retail sportsbooks in the state, of which there are currently 17. Online sportsbooks fared the best in October, when they collected a $483.3 million handle. October was also the highest month of 2021 for total handle at $491.5 million.

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By comparison, handle totaled $1.2 billion in 2020. Most of the handle in 2020 was from online sportsbooks, but the retail books managed to drive a $19 million handle.

Revenue totaled $24.7 million in December 2021, down from a record $36.8 million set in November 2021 but up from $17.2 million in December 2020.

Net sports betting proceeds fell to $5.3 million in December — its lowest point in three months and down from a record $19.3 million in net proceeds from the month before. Year-over-year, net sports betting proceeds was down from $5.7 million in December 2020.

Tax revenue generated in December totaled $770k, its lowest mark in four months.

CDOG data show that gross gaming revenue averaged $20.8 million per month in 2021, while net sports betting proceeds averaged $8.6 million per month. Tax revenue collected by the state wound up averaging $975k per month in 2021.

In terms of handle, it averaged $320.6 million per month in 2021. Online sportsbooks generated an average handle of $315.5 million each month in 2021, while retail sportsbooks averaged $5.2 million.

The regulator does not disclose revenue by operator. CDOG’s website shows 25 online and 17 retail sportsbooks are currently licensed to operate in the state of Colorado.

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Pro Basketball Tops in Sports Betting Handle in 2021

Professional basketball was, by far, the most popular sport for Colorado bettors in 2021, generating a $904.1 million handle. The biggest month for the sport was December 2021, when $125.5 million in bets were placed on the NBA and other pro basketball leagues.

Wagers on professional football was second in terms of handle at $689.1 million. October was the biggest month for pro football with $171.2 million in bets placed. Handle from February was $24.2 million — most of those bets were likely made on Super Bowl LV, in which the Kansas City Chiefs, a team with a hug fan base in neighboring Kansas, represented the AFC. (The Chiefs lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-9).

Baseball was third in handle at $390.7 million, followed by college basketball at $213.7 million and college football at $158.8 million. Baseball’s best month for handle was August while college football had the most bets in October. Not surprisingly, the best month for college basketball was March. Most, if not all, of the $71 million wagered that month was likely on the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments, aka March Madness.

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