By the Numbers: The Most Profitable Sports for Colorado Sportsbooks (and Bettors) So Far

Coloradans wasted no time diving into sports betting. Once May 1, 2020, arrived, Coloradans began placing legal sports bets from their homes. They had access to many international leagues, but their favorite sports wouldn’t return until later that summer. Colorado’s new sports bettors did alright for themselves. However, some sports were more profitable for bettors than others.

What ‘Profitable’ Really Means For Colorado Bettors

Every month, the Colorado government releases a report detailing:

Not every bettor came away with big wins. But as a group, they did a better job wagering on some sports than others. Colorado law prohibits the Limited Gaming Commission from reporting on revenue on private businesses, so they don’t provide more detailed breakdowns than total revenue and total winnings paid. We also only have four months of betting data. (And September’s numbers will probably be released after this is published.) However, we have enough historic data at this point to draw some interesting conclusions about the quirks of Colorado’s young sports betting market.

The Most Profitable Sports For Bettors

Bettors who want to get into sports betting may want to know which sports are the most profitable for them. But it’s not just about the sport. It’s also about the types of wagers available on that sport.

Take professional football. From May to August, Colorado sports bettors won 4.3% of their wagers back. That’s next to nothing. But football isn’t hard to wager on. It’s just that professional football didn’t start until September. The only wagers that were available on football were futures bets. Futures bets are bets on the outcome of the season. That includes who wins the Super Bowl and who’s winning an MVP award. They’re among the riskiest bets Coloradans can wager on.

The first four months of football bets were probably futures bets with a few prop bets thrown in. When we see September’s sports betting figures, they’ll probably include more winnings on football. Bearing bet types–and publishing timing–in mind, here are the sports where Coloradan bettors made their money back.

Baseball, Soccer, And MMA

There were three standout stars for Colorado sports bettors. Here’s how much money Colorado bettors got back from baseball, soccer, and MMA:

Baseball96.14%
MMA94.59%
Soccer94.52%

American baseball resumed July 23, but South Korean and Chinese leagues were available throughout the pandemic. Colorado sports bettors didn’t need to learn a new sport to scratch their sporting itch. They could tune into something familiar while they waited for news about the Rockies. The same was true for soccer.

But the MMA numbers are skewed. In August, MMA bettors made 102.89% on MMA winnings. That means sportsbooks took a 2.89% loss on MMA in August. MMA was probably unkind to the sportsbooks because of an underdog win during UFC 7. The odds on Shana Dobson were +900. That gave her a 10% chance of winning the match. She came through, and every $100 wager on her became a $900 payout. If that win didn’t siphon money out of Colorado’s sportsbooks, it sure helped.

If it wasn’t for MMA’s crazy August, tennis would’ve cracked the top three most profitable sports to wager on. But one other sport had a crazy August that was great for bettors, but terrible for sportsbooks.

Golf’s Crazy August

While it wasn’t a top three sport for bettor returns, golf rewarded bettors handsomely in August. Colorado bettors made 107.94% of their wagers in winnings. That means Colorado sportsbooks lost 7.94% of their golf revenue during August.

It’s probably because Sophie Popov won the British Open–her first win in the majors. Odds on her winning it all were +10,000. So, anyone who bet $100 on her in the beginning took $10,000 home when she won the British Open.

August was a good month to be an underdog bettor.

Stunning underdog victories are great for bettors and bad for sportsbooks. But that’s why sportsbooks distribute their risks across many sports, leagues, and lines. And sportsbooks had some great sports of their own.

The Most Profitable Sports For Colorado Sportsbooks

Football futures were a boon for Colorado sportsbooks. However, the obscene profitability of those early lines likely ended when NFL games resumed. Game lines and live betting offer odds orders of magnitude better than futures bets. September’s sports betting stats will almost certainly reflect that.

We’ve already seen it in hockey. International hockey leagues were available, so the sportsbook profits are less obscene than in football. But when the NHL resumed in August, sportsbook profits on hockey dropped dramatically:

MayJuneJulyAugust
61.09%Data Unavailable70.44%7.24%

Once Colorado bettors had game lines to wager on, they started raking in more money for themselves. In contrast, Colorado sportsbooks lost another cash cow.

Motorsports, Parlays, And Boxing

The football and hockey exceptions aside, a few sports reliably generate profit for Colorado sportsbooks:

Motorsports19.77%
Parlays/Combos15.43%
Boxing14.44%

These sports offer bets that aren’t in bettors’ favor at all. Motorsports offer lines on a driver making the top three, top two, or first place. In a field of 20 to 60 cars, there’s plenty of room for underdog victories. However, the are many lines for bettors to wager on.

And only a few sportsbooks have to pay winnings on.

Parlays and combination bets are openly in the sportsbook’s favor. Parlay bets are multi-part bets that include multiple single bets. So, bettors can wager on a football win and combine it with a baseball win. The result is a wager with higher odds, but lower chances. If one part of the bet loses, the whole parlay is lost. Don’t be fooled by the potential reward. You probably won’t win it.

Boxing also offers odds on an outcome that’s more common in boxing than MMA–although it’s rare in both sports. Boxing offers betting lines that include the possibility of a draw. These three-way lines are enticing. +2,000 on a game line looks fantastic. However, +2,000 odds have a 4.8% chance of occurring, and that chance will probably decrease throughout the match. Often, betting on a boxing draw is free money for sportsbooks.

What New Bettors Could Wager On

However, each bettor’s knowledge about a sport will determine their bet’s success. Bettors and sportsbooks have certain sports where they make the most money:

Top Three Sports For Colorado BettorsTop Three Sports For Colorado Sportsbooks
BaseballMotorsports
MMAParlays/Combos
SoccerBoxing

Bettors are more likely to profit from many smaller bets on game lines with odds that favor them. Sportsbooks profit from long odds that offer tantalizing winnings.

Sportsbooks had a few sports that were insanely profitable for a few months. Hockey and football futures were great for sportsbooks. But now that games have resumed, hockey profitability has dropped to a reasonable level. And when football’s September numbers come out, the trend will likely hold. Bettors need to understand the sport they’re wagering on to win consistently. But this should be a good start to figure out what to wager on and what to avoid.

About the Author

Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a freelance writer tucked into the foothills in Colorado Springs. He works as a content writer, a professional resume writer, and authors search engine optimized professional articles in multiple industries.