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Colorado’s Sports Betting Market Surges, Setting New Records

Explore Colorado's surging sports betting market, with record-breaking figures in February and projections for a robust March fueled by March Madness. Discover how the state is solidifying its position as a thriving hub for sports gambling.
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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: Apr 16, 2024

The Bright Colorado Future

Colorado's sports betting market demonstrated remarkable growth in February, marking a significant milestone for the Centennial State's burgeoning gambling industry. According to data released by the Colorado Division of Gaming, the state recorded a staggering handle of approximately $540 million, representing a notable 26.1% increase compared to the same period last year when the handle stood at just over $425 million.

Despite this impressive surge, there was a slight downturn in revenue compared to January 2024, with sportsbooks experiencing a 10% decline. Nevertheless, Colorado's status as a potential hub for sports gambling and commercial casinos has fueled discussions regarding the prospect of venturing into online casinos.

 

Key Takeaways

  1. Record Growth in Colorado's Sports Betting Market: The sports betting market in Colorado witnessed substantial growth in February, with the state recording a handle of approximately $540 million, marking a significant increase of 26.1% compared to the previous year.
  2. Impact of Pro Basketball and NFL Wagering: The surge in sports betting activity in February was largely driven by professional basketball, with the NBA contributing significantly to the overall handle. Additionally, despite a relatively underwhelming season for the Denver Broncos, NFL wagering in January also played a pivotal role in bolstering Colorado's sports betting market.
  3. Challenges in Physical Casino Locations: Despite the success of statewide online sportsbooks, Colorado's casino towns, including Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek, faced challenges in February, with retail and online sportsbook revenue declining year-on-year. This discrepancy underscores the evolving dynamics between online and physical gambling establishments in the state.

 

While industry experts at PlayUSA refrained from making predictions about legalization for Colorado this year, discussions between industry stakeholders and lawmakers have been ongoing since July. Mark Ferrandino, Director of the Office of State Planning and Budget, disclosed these discussions during a legal gaming states' legislators conference held in Denver. Any move to legalize online casinos in the state would necessitate a referendum, mirroring the process followed for sports betting legalization.

The surge in sports betting activity in Colorado during February was largely propelled by professional basketball, with the state boasting the reigning NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets. Additionally, despite a relatively lackluster season for the Denver Broncos, NFL wagering in January significantly contributed to a strong start to the year for Colorado's sports betting market.

With the nation gripped by the excitement of March Madness, Colorado's sports betting market is poised for further expansion in March, easily surpassing the figures recorded in February.

A breakdown of February's betting handle by sport reveals basketball as the clear frontrunner, commanding the largest share of wagers at over $229 million. Tennis, ice hockey, and pro football also saw substantial handle figures, reflecting the diverse interests of sports bettors in the state.

However, despite the impressive performance of individual sports, the overall handle in February couldn't match the highs of January, a trend commonly observed due to the conclusion of the NFL season, which typically leads to a temporary dip in sports betting activity.

Meanwhile, Colorado's casino towns, including Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek, faced challenges in February, with retail and online sportsbook revenue declining year-on-year by approximately $300,000. These towns also experienced significant month-on-month losses, highlighting the discrepancy between statewide online sportsbook performance and that of physical casino locations.

 

“The surge in sports betting activity in Colorado during February was largely propelled by professional basketball, with the state boasting the reigning NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets.”

 

The Future

Looking ahead, March is anticipated to usher in a resurgence of sports betting activity, fueled by the fervor surrounding March Madness. This annual collegiate basketball tournament traditionally captivates sports enthusiasts across the nation and serves as a catalyst for a substantial increase in betting volumes. As the tournament progresses, billions of dollars are expected to be wagered nationwide, contributing to a vibrant and dynamic sports betting landscape.

Building on the momentum of previous years, Colorado is poised to rebound from its February figures and achieve a projected handle of around $600 million for March. This anticipated surge further cements Colorado's position as a thriving hub for sports gambling, highlighting the state's attractiveness to both bettors and industry stakeholders alike.

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