State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – Colorado Sports Betting Market Heats Up

Admin    Admin     August 28, 2020    

The nascent Colorado sports betting market gathered pace in July as sportsbook operators reported a wagering handle of $59.2 million. Voters approved legal sports wagering in November 2019 and the market went live on May 1. The state was in lockdown at the time and the sporting calendar had been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, so it amounted to a very soft launch. Yet it has gathered steam over the past couple of months, suggesting a bright future for licensed Colorado sportsbooks.

The handle was paltry in May, but it increased to $38.1 million in June after UFC, European soccer and the PGA Tour all resumed. The total amount wagered increased by 55% to $59.2 million in July, as more firms launched sportsbooks in the state and major US sports leagues finally returned. Baseball was the most popular sport among bettors in Colorado during July, ahead of soccer, table tennis and golf. The NBA resumed towards the end of the month, and basketball was fifth on the list of the most popular sports, followed by MMA and tennis.

Operators held onto $2.4 million in revenue in July, up from $2.2 million the previous month. Revenue now stands at $5.2 million since the market began on May 1, which is a reasonable result considering the difficult trading conditions. Bettors can now choose from DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers, Fox Bet, BetMGM and several others in Colorado. More are likely to join the party soon, as licenses are cheap in Colorado.

Sporting Cancelations Cause Turmoil for Sportsbooks

The handle looks set to soar once again in August. The truncated MLB season is now in full swing, the NBA playoffs are raging on and the NHL playoffs are taking place in Edmonton and Toronto, while sportsbooks are offering intriguing futures betting markets on the impending NFL season. However, the situation still looks precarious. Several MLB games have been canceled due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

The US Open tennis tournament is due to take place, but a number of big names have pulled out due to coronavirus fears, including reigning champions Rafa Nadal and Bianca Andreescu.

NBA playoff games have also been canceled after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play Game 5 against the Magic on Wednesday. The players went on strike in protest after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The protests have spread across the NBA, causing several games to be postponed. The NHL called off four games scheduled for Thursday and Friday, while the WNBA also postponed games. Naomi Osaka pulled out of an ATP match in protest, and NFL teams suspended practice.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the NBA has become “like a political organization”. Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, added that he intends to invite the LA Lakers star LeBron James to the White House to discuss solutions to racial injustice. Former President Barack Obama supported the Bucks in their decision and urged all institutions to “stand up for our values”.

Rules at most sportsbooks require games to be played on the stated date for the action to stand. Bettors have therefore generally been refunded for all wagers they placed on the canceled games. “Gonna have to rebet,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich told the Las Vegas Review-Journal via text message when asked about the situation. “Hopefully there are games to rebet.” Players that would have missed those games via injury, such as Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic, could now be fit to play a part, and that could shift the lines.

Delaware Sportsbooks Make a Slow Restart

July was a month to forget for Delaware sportsbooks. Sports wagering revenue reached just $12,114, down 97.6% on the $507,410 it reported in July 2019. Delaware was the first state to legalize sports betting after PASPA was struck down in May 2018, but it only permits land-based wagering. Operations were shut down in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, and they only reopened in July.

Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway were open during the month, although the sportsbook at Delaware Park will not reopen until August 30. A lack of sporting action and reticence among bettors to visit retail sportsbooks caused the handle to plummet 94.7% year-on-year, from $3.9 million to just $209,282. It is also 94.6% lower than the $3.9 million handle taken in March 2020. It shows the importance of offering legal online sports wagering. Delaware’s iGaming market remained in operation during the Covid-19 crisis, and revenue has remained strong.

Kambi Ties Up Churchill Downs Deal

White-label sportsbook provider Kambi has tied up a multi-year deal with Churchill Downs Incorporated to become the sportsbook provider for its BetAmerica brand. BetAmerica sportsbooks are currently New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Mississippi. “We believe the transition to Kambi and GAN as our new technology providers will enable our team to execute the rollout of BetAmerica sportsbooks and iGaming product offering more efficiently as states move to legalize and implement regulations permitting sports betting and iGaming in the coming years,” said CDI chief executive Bill Carstanjen. “BetAmerica will benefit from the proven excellence of these market-leading providers.”

Kambi previously powered the DraftKings sportsbook, but that is switching to SBTech following the merger between the two companies. Kambi also provides sportsbook operations at the likes of 888 Sport, Unibet, Penn National, Rush Street Gaming and Parx in the US, and it is now adding BetAmerica to that roster, suggesting it still sees great potential in the market after bidding farewell to DraftKings.

“It’s a pleasure for Kambi to be partnering with CDI and its BetAmerica brand, which has the potential to benefit from its market access and existing customer database,” said Kambi chief executive Kristian Nylen. “I’m certain with the quality and experience we possess, together with the BetAmerica leadership team, we will be able to grow our businesses together as the U.S. sports betting and iGaming market expands.”

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