DENVER — Coloradans took advantage of the state legalizing sports betting last year — to the tune of $2.3 billion in bets placed during the first full year of the legislation.
Wagers totaled $2,325,477,052 from May 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021, with $148,103,448 in gross revenues from sports betting operations, officials said this week.
Net proceeds totaled $65,962,159, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Of that revenue, the state had collected more than $5.5 million in taxes by April.
Colorado voters narrowly passed the sports betting legislation in November 2019. The program was designed to provide tax revenue for the state's water plan. Once operating costs are covered — and $130,000 can be provided to gambling addiction services — tax revenue from sports betting will go toward the water fund, which needs to raise about $3 billion.
The state had covered those operating costs by the end of 2020, with more than $3 million in taxes collected.
State officials said the first year of sports betting exceeded their expectations, in particular because legal sports betting launched with all U.S. sports shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was also some doubt as to how much revenue sports betting would generate for the state.
A state Joint Budget Committee memo projected less tax revenue than expected from sports betting, warning that Colorado could possibly only generate a fraction of the previously reported revenue estimates.
Still, even during the pandemic, when most U.S. sports were on hold as sports betting launched in Colorado in May, Coloradans placed millions of bets on sports such as European table tennis and South Korean baseball.