March Madness and the surging Denver Nuggets helped sports wagering in Colorado recover in March after declining in February from the previous month for the first time.
The $301 million bet in March was up 12.9% from February's total, fueled by nearly $71 million bet on college basketball and nearly $107 million wagered on professional basketball, the Colorado Department of Revenue reported.
The March total, the second-highest after the record $326.9 million wagered in January, increased the total amount bet since sports wagering was legalized May 1 to $2.08 billion through 11 months of operations.
"With the NCAA Tournament, a return to growth is no surprise, but it is still good to see after a bit of a relatively disappointing month," said Ian St. Clair, an analyst for sports betting website PlayColorado, in a news release. "Considering the circumstances Colorado launched under, at a time when major U.S. sports were dormant, the state really has been one of the U.S. sports betting industry's greatest success stories."
While more was bet on pro hoops, sports books made more more than twice as much on college basketball — $4.37 million — after paying winners.
Colorado sports books lost nearly $3.7 million on college basketball bets in February. Other top betting targets included hockey, which brought in $13.8 million; tennis, which attracted $10.9 million, and soccer, which generated $8.95 million in bets.
Table tennis fell out of the top five sports for the first time in March, ranking sixth with $8.84 million in handle. Parlays and combination bets totaled $55.8 million and betting on other sports totaled $24.9 million.
Colorado sports books netted $20.4 million in revenue in March after paying winners, nearly double the amount from February.
However, $9 million promotional credits awarded to bettors cut the month's profits by nearly half. The amount generated by state's 10% tax on sports wagering profits in March more than tripled February's total at $1.06 million. The tax funds Colorado water projects.