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UFC, table tennis dominate first week of Colorado sports betting
12th May, 12:08Colorado's sports betting industry launched May 1 in the absence of most major league play, but the unprecedented circumstances didn't stop fans from wagering on the limited offerings available.
According to DraftKings, the most popular sport to gamble on among Coloradans is table tennis, which has raked in the most bets by volume and dollar amount so far this month.
The second most popular sport by both metrics is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which hosted its first fights since March over the weekend, followed by Korean baseball and Belarus Premier League Soccer, the sportsbook reported.
Saturday's UFC 249 matchups, headlined by lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, also boosted wagers among Coloradans using the BetRivers and FanDuel online sportsbooks.
"We don't have previous Colorado data to compare it to, but in our other markets, we received more betting action on this event than any regular season NFL game," said Mattias Stetz, chief operating officer of BetRivers parent company Rush Street Interactive. "It was even 33% more popular than Conor McGregor's return to UFC this past January."
The match was also FanDuel's most popular event so far in the Centennial State, said director of publicity Kevin Hennessy, followed by table tennis, and bets on future NFL games and NASCAR races.
DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers declined to specify the monetary value of wagers placed in Colorado. The state's Division of Gaming, part of the Department of Revenue, expects to release a monthly report detailing aspects of the industry, but didn't have any figures available about its first 10 days, said Suzi Karrer, communications manager.
Chris Altruda, national sports betting industry analyst for PennBets.com, said the UFC's draw isn't surprising given it was a high-profile event happening in the United States and featuring familiar athletes that could attract even casual bettors. More obscure sports, such as Korean baseball and table tennis, could increasingly gain traction the longer competition lasts, he said; however, the handle, or dollar amount wagered, won't likely be impressive compared to mainstream leagues.
Still, Altruda believes "there was never going to be a 'bad' launch date" because of regulations that allow players to sign up with an app remotely without having to go to a casino.
"The legislation still provides an excellent beta testing grounds for the regulatory agencies to make sure everything works and for the sportsbooks to learn about the new market," Altruda said.
Dan Hartman, director of Colorado's Division of Gaming, agreed, calling the first days of sports betting "successful."
"We're excited to see the full potential of sports betting in Colorado once additional operators come online, and more sporting events return in the weeks and months ahead," Hartman said.