Slower volume but higher revenue helps Colorado sportsbooks in June

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Sports betting volume fell for the second time in three months for Colorado’s sportsbooks during June, but a hike in revenue saw a spike in tax returns for the state. 

According to PlayColorado, which tracks the state’s regulated sports betting market, the contradictory results are an unsurprising feature of the summer months when sportsbooks win a higher percentage of primarily futures bets on sports such as tennis. 

Colorado’s online and retail sportsbooks took in a combined $229.8m in wagers in June, including $227.1m in online wagering. June’s handle was down 7.7% from $249m in May as bettors poured in $7.7m per day over the 30 days of June. In May, bettors placed $8m in wagers per day.

“Tennis and golf don’t generate the same kind of interest as major team sports, obviously, but the higher win percentages help sportsbooks offset the offseason dip in betting volume,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for the network, which includes 

She added: “With the Olympics here, and major golf and tennis tournaments dotting the July calendar, Colorado’s sportsbooks will get a bit of a boost even if bettors engage less.”

Year-on-year, wagers in June were up from $38.1m in June 2020, a month still hampered by the pandemic-related shutdown of most major sports.

The decline in wagering didn’t stop gross gaming revenue from rising 30.2% to $19.7m in June from $15.2m in May. After promotional credits, net sports betting proceeds came in at $11.7m, yielding $1.2m in tax revenue, the second-highest ever for the state. 

Colorado’s 23.7% decline in betting volume from $301m in March is in line with much of the US. March brought the highest betting volume in US history, with $4.6bn in legal bets placed across the US. With no football or betting holiday like March Madness, combined US handle fell to $3.7bn in both April and May and is on pace for a similar total in June. That is a 19.6% drop from March’s high.

Boosted by the Denver Nuggets’ playoff run, which lasted until June 13, pro basketball remained the top betting draw in June with $74.9m in wagers. That was down from $86.9m in May but marked the sixth consecutive month that basketball betting has generated the lion’s share of bets at Colorado’s sportsbooks. 

Baseball generated $54.6m, up from $49.1m in May. The Colorado Avalanche were eliminated from the NHL playoffs June 10, just enough to keep hockey betting in fifth place in June with $10.7m in wagers. But soccer ($12.7m) and tennis ($12.3m) drew even more interest, while table tennis ($8.7m) remained popular.

After June’s results, Colorado sportsbooks are about to reach another, albeit obscure, milestone. With June’s $7.5m in free bets — which sportsbooks offer to attract new customers at no risk to the bettor — they have now given away $96.2m in free bets since launch. That figure is likely to grow to $100m in July.

Said Welman: “Sportsbooks have invested heavily in the market, and one way they continue to do so is through free plays. Mostly, it’s been a successful strategy that has really kept bettors interested. Free bets do sap tax revenue, but ideally the strategy will pay off long-term by growing the market.”