Colorado became one of the pioneering states to legalize sports betting in 2020 and ever since then, it has witnessed a tremendous surge in popularity. Within just over three years, a staggering $15 billion has been legally wagered in the state. The year 2023 alone saw an astonishing $5 billion bet, more than twice the amount from the previous year, showcasing the insatiable appetite Colorado residents have for sports betting.

This remarkable growth has not only resulted in significant winnings for players but has also proven to be a financial boon for Colorado itself. In the first 11 months of 2023 alone, sports betting tax revenue amounted to a substantial $11.54 million, marking a notable increase of 6.7% compared to the previous year and indicating promising continued expansion.

The primary factors driving this momentum have been the accessibility of mobile betting and strategic expansions within retail sportsbooks. The introduction of smartphone based betting has attracted a broader audience of casual gamblers. Simultaneously, renowned casino destinations such as Black Hawk and Cripple Creek have capitalized on tourist footfall by introducing state of the art sportsbook venues.

These trends show no signs of slowing down; if anything, they are likely to gain even more momentum going forward. According to estimates by the American Gaming Association, illegal offshore wagers still amount to over $90 billion annually due to states lacking legalized betting mechanisms.
As more states, like North Carolina which recently legalized North Carolina sports betting and North Carolina sports betting apps, strive to tap into this untapped demand, regulated sports betting will attract those offshore dollars. Major operators like BetMGM are already offering North Carolina sports betting promos to acquire customers.

Sporting events themselves have also experienced the benefits of increased viewership and engagement. The recently concluded NFL season achieved a 28 year high with an average of 18 million viewers per game. Experts partially attribute this phenomenon to the growing popularity of fantasy football and sports betting. Fans become more invested when their own money is on the line.

In Colorado, basketball takes the lead in terms of betting action, accounting for nearly 25% of the total handle. Football and baseball follow closely at 16% and 10%, respectively. With sports betting becoming intertwined with watching games, sporting leagues and broadcasters are reaping financial rewards through higher ratings, advertising revenue and partnerships.

Nevertheless, Colorado officials urge caution amidst the sports betting frenzy. While tax revenues and economic impacts are significant, there has been a concurrent increase in issues related to problem gambling.

The number of calls made to the national gambling addiction hotline has spiked in recent years. To address this concern proactively, Colorado has allocated funding for counseling services, prevention programs, self exclusion options, deposit limits and more. The aim is to allow adults to enjoy responsible betting while safeguarding vulnerable individuals.

Other jurisdictions considering legalizing sports wagering should take note of this lesson.
Tax windfalls are not enough on their own; they need to be accompanied by smart regulations and resources to address gambling disorders. It is important for states to consider whether additional treatment centers, prevention education and addiction research should be part of any legislation.

Currently, the US sports betting industry is just beginning to gain momentum. According to one analysis, it is projected that the total market could reach $41 billion in handle by 2033. More states will likely pass bills in the coming years to tap into this revenue source, making it accessible to around 85% of the country’s population.

For trailblazers like Colorado, having an early advantage is crucial. The state already has experienced regulators, established consumer protections and responsible gaming measures that can serve as a model for other states like North Carolina which is still developing its frameworks around North Carolina sports betting. By combining caution with innovation, Colorado can protect its position as a leader in the rapidly growing sports betting industry.

If November’s 10% year over year increase in wagers becomes the new normal, Colorado will solidify its position as a long term frontrunner in this thriving industry. With sports and gambling being two beloved pastimes of Americans, states are making significant bets on this emerging form of entertainment spreading across the nation.

✅ Fact Checked on January 23, 2024 by Ken Weaver