Colorado’s June Sports Betting Revenues Hit By Denver Nuggets Winning NBA Championship

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Colorado’s sports bettors took the state’s retail sportsbooks for a ride in June, according to the latest monthly data from the Colorado Division of Gaming.  

Operators paid out millions more than they received in basketball wagers, largely due to the state’s own Denver Nuggets and their successful NBA championship run (celebrations pictured).

The state’s sports fans and bettors may have been celebrating an historic underdog victory for the Nuggets, but its sportsbooks might not be so pleased.

Gross market revenue was reported at $9.2 million for the month, which is down about 68% on May’s revenues of $31.2 million, but up 30% year-on-year. Retail sportsbooks, however, reported a $674,000 loss.

Colorado bettors placed $57.9 million in basketball wagers in June, and were paid out $68.8 million in winnings. That meant an overall loss for sportsbooks of $10.8 million on the market for the month.

This marked the second consecutive June that Colorado books posted a loss on NBA betting. However, June 2022’s loss was considerably less, coming in at $788,000 from $44 million in handle.

The state market also lost a competitor this month, after struggling operator PlayUp told the CDG it was suspending operations in the state and in New Jersey.

Related: The best Colorado sportsbooks ranked and reviewed

Bettors Make a Nugget off the NBA

The Nuggets’ first NBA championship was a cause for celebration for most in Colorado. But it spelled trouble for the state’s sportsbooks.

Of the $301 million in bets placed at sportsbooks in June, 18.7% were on basketball. As established, that resulted in a $10.8 million loss in the market.

However, this figure does not account for the numerous futures bets placed on the home NBA team throughout the season. The Nuggets had odds of between 1600+ and 1800+ on a championship win at the start of the season, meaning some sizeable payouts would have been due.

Basketball wasn’t the only sport that caused trouble for Colorado’s sportsbooks.

Ice hockey odds also proved challenging in June, with $4.5 million in accepted wagers and $5.3 million in payouts. This discrepancy is likely due to the many pending future bets that were paid out at the end of the season, and also the Las Vegas Golden Knights upset NHL Stanley Cup championship run.

In Nevada, June showed similar troubles for the state’s sportsbooks in Colorado. Sportsbooks in Las Vegas lost more than $6 million on NHL bets over the month. Both stories serve to show how much hometown team performance can influence a state betting market.

Despite the popularity and success of NBA bettors, baseball remained the most popular sport of the month in Colorado, accounting for a third of all handle.

The state was also very interested in table tennis. During the off-season off most U.S. sports, more Colorado bettors wagered on table tennis than MMA and college basketball. More than $7.8 million was put down on table tennis over June at online books, with just $388 of that coming from physical books.

Low Holds but Overall Improvement

All that meant the overall hold percentage for June was a meager 3%, which is third-lowest in 38 months of wagering in Colorado.

It is surpassed only by June of the previous year (2.2%) and September 2020 (2%).

Despite the challenges faced in June, Colorado’s sports betting industry remains robust.

Even with heavy losses in basketball betting and for retail sportsbooks in general, total gross market revenue represented a 36% year-over-year improvement.

The state reported net sports betting proceeds of almost $2 million, indicating that operators distributed more than $7.2 million in tax-deductible promotional credit.

The CDG does not break down figures for operator performance. But nationally, DraftKings and FanDuel continue to lead the market in overall handle each month.

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