Colorado became the eighth state in the post-PASPA era to post a $700 million monthly sports betting handle Thursday after the Division of Gaming reported sportsbooks accepted $716.4 million worth of wagers in December.

The Centennial State joined New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Arizona in this select circle, with Colorado achieving the feat one month after clearing $600 million for the first time. December handle was up 38.3% compared to the final month of 2022, and the $5.56 billion handle for 2023 was up 7.3% versus the previous year. Mobile sports betting apps accounted for all but $4.5 million of December action, and 99.2% of handle in 2023 came via digital wagering.

The record handle, though, failed to deliver record revenue. Operators posted their largest monthly loss in NFL wagering at nearly $6.4 million, which dragged gross revenue down to just over $40.5 million. The 5.7% statewide hold by operators is currently the worst among 27 states that have published December figures, with Illinois, Arizona, and Kentucky still outstanding.

Despite the slight year-over-year decline in gross winnings, Colorado sportsbooks still had a solid 2023, as their $391.9 million in revenue was 11.4% better than 2022. The house edged over the industry standard 7% hold, notching an increase of a quarter of a percentage point.

The state was able to levy taxes on $25.1 million in adjusted gross revenue in December, resulting in a monthly all-time high of $3.7 million. The previous record of almost $3.34 million was set in October, as the inflow of $27.4 million into state coffers for 2023 was $7.8 million higher than 2022.

Colorado levied taxes on 66.9% of operator revenue in 2023, significantly higher than the 53.7% for 2022 after a bill that took effect in January 2023 limited operator deductions to 2.5% of their monthly handle. The state received $15.2 million in taxes in the first six months of Fiscal Year 2023-2024 and is currently outpacing the estimated $25 million to be collected for the 12-month span that ends in June.

Record handle and record loss for NFL betting

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The Denver Broncos’ five-game winning streak spanning October and November put them in decent position to claim a postseason berth, but they dropped three of five games in December — marked by a tumultuous period when quarterback Russell Wilson was benched — and eventually fell short with an 8-9 record.

Though specific week-to-week wagering figures are not available, it could be that Colorado sports bettors knew when to both tail and fade the Broncos in Weeks 13 through 17. The public emerged with almost $6.4 million on top of the record $193.1 million wagered, blowing past the record $3.8 million loss sportsbooks incurred on NFL betting in January 2023. Handle was up 40.9% compared to December 2022 in topping the previous record of $185.2 million worth of bets accepted in October.

Another reason revenue failed to climb with handle is commonplace in Colorado: the public’s ability to fare better at parlay wagering compared to the rest of the country.

That proved pivotal in December, as parlay handle soared to a record $204.2 million — more than double the $83.6 million from the end of 2022 and an all-time high for the third consecutive month. Operators notched a 12.9% hold, good enough to claim a record $26.4 million in winnings, but that parlay win rate was the lowest among the five that have published parlay handle and revenue results for December.

Parlay handle for 2023 crossed over $1 billion, up 22.7% from 2022, but revenue lagged behind with a 16.4% rise to $161.9 million. The 14.4% hold on multi-leg bets for the full calendar year was down nearly eight-tenths of a percentage point compared to 2022 and is tracking to be the lowest among the six states that publish handle and revenue figures.

House finds some success with NBA bets

Parlay revenue accounted for just over 65% of total gross revenue in December, with NBA wagering providing the bulk of the remaining balance with $13.1 million in winnings for the house thanks to a solid 7.7% hold. That was $400,000 off the 2023-best $13.5 million accrued in March, and the $171.4 million handle was up 15.9% from December 2022.

The house had seven-figure revenue totals from five sport categories, but holds varied widely across them. Soccer provided the most of the quintet at more than $1.3 million thanks to a 9.6% win rate, while hockey was close behind at $1.2 million on a hold of 8%.

College football, tennis, and the catch-all “other” category all provided more than $1.1 million apiece, though operators were limited to a 2.5% hold on college football. While the “Prime” effect of first-year coach Deion Sanders provided a 6.9% bump in known handle to $231.7 million, operators had only a 2.7% win rate as revenue was nearly cleaved in half to $6.2 million.

Though table tennis revenue totaled only $628,378 in December, the full-year revenue of nearly $8 million was 90.4% higher than 2022. That was sparked by an 86% surge in handle to a record $107.8 million in the popular niche sport. Colorado bettors generated table tennis handle of at least $7.8 million in each of the final nine months of 2023.

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