Colorado Sports Betting Handle Up Slightly in October, Tax Revenue Nearly Doubles

Colorado sports betting handle for October notched a negligible increase over September’s haul, but the monthly tax revenue for the month was the highest ever reported in the state’s sixth reported month of legal sports betting.

The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming released the sports betting handle numbers for October on Monday, Nov. 30, reporting a total take of $210,719,821 for the month. This amount is just over $3 million above September’s total of $207,655,942.72.

Sports Betting Handle Climb Slows in October, But Tax Revenue Surges

Since its May 1 launch, Colorado sports betting has enjoyed significant month-over-month growth in handle, with an average of 56.2% growth from one month to the next as the market finds its sea legs. The handle increase between September and October 2020 is just 1.47%, marking the first month of legal sports betting in the state where handle didn’t increase significantly over the month before.

Obviously there are many potential factors at play. With hockey, baseball, and basketball all completing their modified seasons over the last month, there were simply fewer events to wager on than this August when all four major US pro leagues were playing at the same time. It’s way too early to call this a plateau, but it’s a noteworthy statistical anomaly in a market that so far has only gone steeply up month to month.

Slowing handle growth aside, October was a banner month for Colorado sports betting tax revenue. The state took in $824,700 from retail and online sports betting for the month, a 91.5% increase over September and the largest single-month’s revenue total since legalization. GGR, or gross gaming revenue, also spiked in October, climbing from $4.16 million in September to a whopping $17.4 million, a more than four-fold increase.

NFL Betting Takes Top Spot, Table Tennis Cannot Be Stopped

Pro football claimed the top spot for October’s Colorado sports betting handle, taking in just shy of $68 million. Once again football was the only sport with over a million dollars wagered at retail sportsbooks, which means Colorado sports bettors particularly enjoy the in-person casino experience when it comes to betting on football. It will be safe to expect a massive spike in football betting in the next few months leading up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

Baseball slipped to second place this month, taking in $23 million in bets. October was the first full month of NCAA Football‘s return to action, so perhaps not surprisingly it landed at number 3 for October, with $16.5 million in total wagers. The NBA Finals concluded in October, and basketball held onto the 4th spot with $12.67 million bet.

The real staying power tale of this month’s revenue report is the unstoppable force that is table tennis. Since legalization in May, table tennis has remained in the top 5 most wagered-on sports in Colorado every single month, including spending May and June at number 1. Table tennis came in at number 5 for October, proving six months running that Coloradans simply love betting on table tennis. There’s no way around it at this point.

Analysis Of Colorado October Sports Betting Handle

This is an interesting report. It marked six consecutive months of increases in sports betting handle, though October was the first month without at least a 50% gain over the previous month. Tax revenue and GGR ticked way up, which should go a long way to allay any fears that may have arisen from last month’s more modest revenue numbers.

The Colorado Limited Gaming Commission offered in this month’s report a detailed look at how Colorado sports betting taxation works, which we will cover in a separate report this week. Colorado Sharp had a wide-ranging interview with CO Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman last week, and he gave some great insight into the macroeconomics of the nascent market. Reached by email, Hartman had this to say about October’s figures:

As this industry grows, it reminds us how different it is and how it may be as difficult to predict the tax revenue as it relies on games and matches ultimate outcomes. We are glad to see our best month of tax revenues so far. As we can see from the differences between September and October, where the total wagered was relatively the same, tax collections reflect the fluctuations in successfully predicting sports.”

Once again, Colorado sports bettors overwhelmingly preferred to make their wagers online, with 98% of the monthly handle coming from sports betting apps or websites. It’s interesting that NFL and NCAA football combined for nearly $3 million of October’s in-person sportsbook wagers, representing 66% of all retail sports bets placed statewide in the entire month.

The incremental uptick of monthly handle in October over the month before is worth noting, but with only a half-year’s worth of data to look at, easily explainable due to the cyclical nature of pro sports. This is especially true in a year where all pro leagues had topsy-turvy schedules that saw many of them playing simultaneously.

About the Author

Chris Nesi

Chris Nesi is Managing Editor of Colorado Sharp. He’s been an editor and writer for more than a decade, with experience spanning newspapers, magazines, digital news, and commercial writing. His work can be found in publications including TechCrunch, Mental Floss and Huffington Post. Chris lives just outside of Denver and enjoys regular trips to Black Hawk. He bets the hard ways and always splits 8s.