Colorado Notches $1.2B for 2020 in Sports Wagering Handle with Record December

  • Colorado’s record December accounts for 2020 of over $1B handles, joining 5 US states
  • NFL & NCAA dominated wagering action, but other sports surprises include table tennis
  • Tax contribution for state helped the Colorado Water Plan with more expected for 2021

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The hits just keep on coming regarding US states announcing record months involving sports wagering handle.

This week it was Colorado, coming on a record-breaking November, surpassing that in December with $284.6 million, concluding the year with a $1 billion-plus handle.

According to figures released by the Colorado Division of Gaming on Monday, the December handle represented a 23% increase from November’s $231.2 million. However, taxes raised in December totaled $531,489, a decline from November’s $793,820 figure. Overall, the Centennial State achieved a beyond targeted $1.2 billion sports betting handle in eight months since its inception on May 1, 2020.

By the Numbers

For 2020, Colorado achieved $1,185,754,617 in total wagers according to the Department of Revenue (DOR). Taxes collected by the state for the year totaled $3,418,818.

No surprise that NFL and NCAA college football combined led all sports for the month with $88,176,862 coming from both online and retail wagers, according to DOR data. NBA and NCAA Basketball were second and third highest, respectively, though wagers for football were greater than both other sports combined.

It remains surprising that a few fringe sports like table tennis also brought in $10,959,432 in wagering handle for December and paid out $10,196,059.00 in earnings.

State officials were obviously pleased that numbers exceeded expectations. Commenting on the December milestone Colorado Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman said:

Hitting the $1 billion mark is a milestone event for the Division, leading us to believe that the trust and competition in the Colorado sports betting industry are drawing bettors from the black market to the regulated market.

Inside the Numbers

Drilling down further, Colorado experienced some impressive feats since launching in May including:

  • $1.2 billion in bets, of which $1.17 billion came online
  • $75.8 million in gross gaming revenue
  • $28 million-plus in net betting proceeds
  • $3 million in state taxes

Including those December figures, Colorado became the fifth US state to exceed $1 billion in total handle in one year since PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) was overturned by the US Supreme Court in May 2018.

More Opportunities for 2021

More good news is on the way for Colorado starting 2021. In January, Circa Sports Colorado and DeckPrism Sports announced an agreement making DeckPrism the exclusive in-play odds provider for Circa’s sportsbook app in Colorado. That deal gives Circa Sports Colorado access to DeckPrism’s technology, offering Circa Colorado customers in-play odds.

Also watch for 888 Holdings, whose book 888sport to begin operation in Colorado in early 2021. 888sports along with Betsson were recently approved for temporary internet online sports wagering licenses for the state.

Benefits for Colorado’s Water Plans

It should also be mentioned, despite some early naysayers, Colorado’s success in sports wagering had begun paying dividends for benefiting Colorado’s Water Plan projects.

Despite projections from Gov. Jared Polis’ administration warning that the wagering would begin slowly and that money wouldn’t flow to water projects until at least the second full year of sports betting, tax money collected has helped.

The more than $3.4 million in sports betting tax revenue collected through the end of December has covered the roughly $2 million startup costs that had to be paid off before wagering dollars could start being directed to the water plan projects, including increasing storage capacity.

Commenting on the issue State House Speaker Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat who pushed for Proposition DD on the ballot said:

It is a sign that we built a healthy, competitive, regulated marketplace.

Proposition DD was pitched to Colorado voters as a method to direct money to the state’s water plan, which could have cost as much as $40 billion. But in December 2019, Polis’ Department of Revenue warned state lawmakers that it would possibly take until the 2021-22 fiscal year before enough tax revenue came in for the water plan to benefit.

Still, while critics have complained that Proposition DD has not done enough to contribute toward the water plan’s needs, Garnett has defended its growing contribution and argued it is off to a reasonable start.

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Larry Gibbs

Expert on Sports Betting Industry

Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.

Email: [email protected]