Motorsports returned to the top 10 most bet sports in Colorado in May, according to a report released by the state’s Department of Revenue. The month of April marked the first time since February auto racing did not appear on the list of top 10 sports by handle in the Centennial State.
Colorado provides an instructive view into motorsports’ place in the betting hierarchy, as the state reports handle and revenue in greater detail per sport than other jurisdictions. Many states, including New Jersey and Nevada, offer data specific only to sports such as football, basketball and baseball, grouping all others together in a separate category.
In May 2021, Colorado gamblers made $718,489 in motorsports bets, an all-time high for auto racing since legal sports betting launched in the state in May 2020. The previous high was $666,413 in February, when Daytona Speedweeks and the Daytona 500 kicked off the NASCAR season.
Auto racing was one of only two sports in which Colorado bettors beat the sportsbooks in May. Per the state report, $735,608 was returned to players in the month, amounting to a loss of about $17,000 for the operators. This marks the first time in state’s short history of legal sports betting that motorsports gamblers got the better of the books.
Golf, too, showed a profit for the customers, as $5.3 million was paid to the players on handle of about $4.8 million.
February was a particularly brutal month for auto-racing bettors, as they saw just $355,739 returned to them for a loss of $310,674. That’s a “hold” (or win) percentage of 46.6 for the books, a huge number for the gaming industry.
For perspective, Colorado bookmakers won about $15.2 million of the $248.9 million wagered on all sports in May, a hold percentage of 6.08%. In February, their hold percentage was a minuscule 3.92%.
The state’s report also illustrates that gamblers overwhelmingly prefer getting their bets down via digital platforms rather than in retail environments. Online wagering accounted for $714,815 of the $718,489 bet on motorsports in Colorado in May, an eye-opening 99.49%. Overall, $246,488,626 in sports bets were place online, again more than 99% of the total handle booked in the state.
Perusing these reports, one may be surprised to see table tennis rank so high on the list. What’s known to many as ping-pong was the fourth most bet sport in Colorado in May and the sixth most bet over the 12-month span that ended in April. Table tennis grabbed gamblers’ attention as the pandemic shut down most other sports last year and evidently has some legs among the crowd.
As for NASCAR and motorsports in general, while the data from Colorado shows auto racing has some catching up to do as it carves its niche in the sports betting landscape, there are signs it is making its way through the field.
Marcus DiNitto is a writer and editor living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been covering sports for nearly two-and-a-half decades and sports betting for more than 10 years. His first NASCAR betting experience was in 1995 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, where he went 0-for-3 on his matchup picks. Read his articles and follow him on Twitter; do not bet his picks.