Colorado sportsbooks record month-on-month decline in February

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Colorado is the latest state to experience its first month-on-month decline in sports betting revenue, due largely to February’s 28 days and the conclusion of the NFL season, according to PlayColorado, which provides news and analysis of the state’s gaming industry.

The state’s online and retail sportsbooks combined to take in $266.5m in bets in February, with overall handle down 18.5% from $326.9m in bets in January, and the lowest monthly handle since November’s $231.2m. Bettors placed about $9.5m bets per day in February, down from $10.5m in January.

Sportsbooks generated $10.4m in gross gaming revenue, down from the record $23.1m in January, and yielding just $175,275 in net sports betting proceeds, down from $11.7m in January. That produced just $332,227 in state taxes.

Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayColorado, commented: “February is a reminder that with the seasonality of sports betting, growth is never assured even in a market like Colorado. In nearly every legal betting market, a pullback from January was expected mainly because there is nowhere near the NFL inventory of games to bet on, even with the Super Bowl

“Colorado is a unique market in many ways, but ultimately it is still subject to the same sports betting dynamics as any other state.”

February marks the first time since Colorado launched sports betting in May that sportsbooks failed to set a new monthly handle record for the state. Retail in particular had a rough month, generating just $7.5m in bets. 96.9% of all bets, or $258.2m, were made online.

Colorado is the seventh-largest market in the US, falling just short of Indiana’s $273.9m. Michigan, in its first full month of sports betting, topped both states with more than $325m in online and retail betting.

“The month-over-month growth streak was bound to be snapped, but the underlying fundamentals of the market remain strong,” said Ian St Clair, analyst for PlayColorado. “Retail sportsbooks continue to struggle amid the pandemic, but hopefully they will rebound as we move closer to normal.”

For the second-straight month, pro basketball betting eclipsed football with $95m in wagers, by far the most-popular bet even with the Super Bowl being played in early February. With just one game to bet on, even if it was the Super Bowl, football betting fell to $39.6m. And table tennis ($13m) once again drew more action than more mainstream sports like ice hockey ($9.5m).

College basketball took in $24.2m, which wasn’t surprising. But sportsbooks lost $3.7m on those bets. 

“Colorado’s market continues to evolve in unforeseen ways, and it goes beyond the continued popularity of table tennis,” St Clair added. “For February, Colorado bettors did extremely well on betting on college basketball, winning almost $4m on the sport. That is unusual for what is typically the calm before March’s college basketball storm.”