Despite December's monthly decline

Colorado becomes sixth largest US sports betting handle with nearly $4B in 2021

NBA's Denver Nuggets.
Reading time 2:22 min

Colorado’s Department of Revenue reported Monday more than $461.4 million worth of sports wagers placed during December, thus becoming the sixth state to clear a $5 billion sports betting handle in the post-PASPA era. 

The monthly figure was down 2.9% from November, but up more than 60% from December 2020. Betting also declined slightly in November. Even so, wagers in the final three months of 2021 totaled more than $1.4 billion, and accounted for the three highest monthly totals since legal sports betting began in the state back in May 2020. 

After operators claimed a record $36.8 million in gross revenue in November, bettor’s fortunes improved as they limited the house to a 5.4% win rate in December. The third-lowest hold reported since launch resulted in operators posting $24.7 million in gross revenue, a 32.8% month-over-month drop as the hold plunged nearly 2.5 percentage points. 

However, the strong handle contributed to December’s gross revenue being the third-highest in the 20 months of reports and the fourth consecutive month above $20 million. 

Colorado gamblers wagered $3.9 billion in 2021, more than triple the $1.2 billion bet in 2020, which included eight months of legal wagers and abbreviated seasons in many professional and college sports. 

Colorado sportsbooks generated $250.1 million in revenue and paid $11.7 million in taxes in 2021. Colorado’s 2021 total ranked sixth among the 31 states with legal sports betting. 98% of the bets in the 20 months of legal betting in the state were made online. 

Out of the total revenue for the state, 58.7% ($164.7 million) was deemed promotional revenue. The state was able to $130.4 million of operator revenue, and the $14.7 million in overall taxes since launch represents 0.3% of the all-time handle. 

The state saw barely more than 20% of the revenue amount as net sports betting proceeds available to be taxed. Operators reported $19.5 million in promotional revenue for December, the second-largest amount overall and fourth straight of at least $17.6 million. The $5.2 million in adjusted revenue resulted in $770,370 in state taxes, which added up to $11.7 million for the year. 

Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the Network, which follows regulated gaming, reflected: “By nearly every metric, Colorado is hitting above its weight class, with the exception of the tax revenue sports betting generates. Importantly, tax revenue ramped up at the end of the year, which is a positive development. That could continue as the market expands and sportsbooks begin to taper their promotions (free bets)”.

Ian St.Clair, lead analyst for, added: “The last three months of 2021 really put an exclamation point on what has been relentless growth all year. Coloradoans  continue to wager at a pace on par with more populous states, and it is still a market that has not yet fully matured. The state’s sportsbooks are in a really good place”. 

One reason why sportsbooks were able to finish the year on a high note is the increasing popularity of basketball betting, particularly the NBA. It drew the most bets in 2021 with $958 million in wagers. Meanwhile, pro football took in $689.2 million in 2021.

“Interest in the Nuggets combined with the Broncos’ struggles contributed to the leveling of interest in football and basketball in December”, St. Clair continued. “Football is popular in every legal U.S. market. But a hallmark of the highest volume U.S. markets is that the NBA, with its 82-game regular season and long postseason, tends to be a more consistent bet producer than the NFL. Colorado is clearly fitting into that pattern."

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