Sports wagering in Colorado last month fell to an eight-month low as the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche were eliminated from the playoffs early in the month, the Colorado Division of Gaming reported Tuesday.
The $229.8 million wagered in June was the lowest since bets totaled $210.7 million in October. Last month's total is six times the $38.1 million bet in June 2020, the second month sports wagering was legal, but down 7.7% from May's total. The monthly total has declined in two of the past three months. Wagers for the first half of the year totaled $1.62 billion.
The Avalanche were eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights on June 11, while the Nuggets' playoff run ended two days later. While professional basketball still was the top sport for bettors for the sixth consecutive month, the $74.9 million handle in June was down $12 million from May's total. Betting on professional hockey last month fell nearly $5 million from May to $10.7 million.
Although betting on professional baseball increased from May to June by more than $5 million to $54.6 million and wagers on tennis rose by $4 million to $12.3 million during the same period, those gains weren't enough to offset the declines on pro basketball and hockey. Betting on table tennis, which has been among the top five sports in Colorado most months since sports wagering was legalized in May 2020, fell by $1.5 million to $8.7 million from May to June.
"There is no way for tennis or table tennis to completely make up for a sports calendar in June that was suddenly devoid of local interest after the Avalanche and Nuggets seasons ended," said Ian St. Clair of PlayColorado.com, a sports betting news, analysis and research site. "Overall, Colorado continues to weather the summer months relatively well," when sports betting typically slows.
Despite the drop in betting, Colorado sportsbooks came out winners by generating nearly $20 million in revenue in June, up 30.2% from May. That's because bettors placed fewer winning wagers, allowing casinos to keep 8.6% of the amount bet, the highest win percentage for sportsbooks since July 2020. Much of that boost came from tennis and golf, sports where bettors made fewer winning wagers.
"Tennis and golf don't generate the same kind of interest as major team sports, obviously, but the higher win percentages help sportsbooks offset the offseason dip in betting volume," said Jessica Welman, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayColorado.com. "With the Olympics here and major golf and tennis tournaments dotting the July calendar, Colorado sportsbooks will get a bit of a boost."
The boost in sportsbook revenue also made the state a winner — taxes paid by sportsbooks nearly doubled to $1.19 million, the most since the NFL playoffs helped push sports betting tax payments to $1.2 million in January. The tax funds Colorado water projects.