What Impact Will Legal Sports Betting Have on Colorado?

Kodey Stauffer takes a look at the new sports betting regulations in Colorado and analyzes what impact legal sports betting will have on the state.

Starting in 1991, sports betting was illegalized nationwide in all states except for Oregon, Delaware, Montana, and certain pools in Nevada. Nearly three decades later, on May 14, 2019, the Supreme Court overruled the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) stating it was a violation of state rights. Almost to the date, sports betting in Colorado has opened up following a near year-long process to pass Proposition DD. Overlooked by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission and the Colorado Division of Gaming, sports betting has made its way onto the scene in Colorado.

So, what does this all mean for Colorado? What impact will it have on Colorado citizens? Visitors from out of state? How does this impact the view of sports in Colorado’s public eye?

Proposition DD nearly flips the older gambling Colorado laws on their head. The only legal forms of gambling were restricted to the Lottery, bingo/raffles or charitable events, and “Social Gambling.” Online gambling was even not backed by the state and should anybody be scammed the state would not help you. The only experience this state has with sports betting is horse racing with the Arapahoe Park Racetrack for onsite and offsite betting. We could potentially see this as a Segway towards sports betting and have already seen some of the same policies and licenses be required for sports betting.

A huge appeal for this is the benefits it brings to the state itself with estimates hovering around an additional $400 million in operator revenue annually. These estimates encourage congress and the population who voted in Prop DD because 10% of the profits from sports gambling wages will be collected for the state. With this newfound revenue, a portion will go to the Colorado Water Plan that helps prepare for future population growth and will attempt to combat climate change via the construction of dams. A portion of the money will also fund behavioral health services, and addiction resources for gamblers. These resources combat the flipside of the ethical debate in gambling and will hopefully reduce any life-shattering problems gambling may have on citizens.

The biggest impact that we will see in Colorado will be the fact that sportsbooks and operators have to be partnered with in-state establishments. Examples include that FanDuel is licensed through a partnership of Golden Gates Casino, and Draft Kings licensed through Golden Mardi Gras. Super Book has partnered with Lodge Casino in Black Hawk marking the first time the largest sportsbook in the world has ventured outside of Nevada. Gambling in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek has already been 24/7 for just over a decade and is certainly a hotspot for both Colorado residents and tourists alike. Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek has already put in motion a brick-and-mortar sportsbook where their sports bar area is. This is just one of many casinos to welcome sports betting on a long list that include notable casinos such as the Ameristar, Lady Luck, Lodge Casino, Riviera, Silver Hawk, Sky Ute, Ute Mountain, and many more spanning predominately across Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Canyon City. The Casinos are also the ones in charge of setting betting limits on sports betting with no restrictions imposed by the state. The table limit for games in these cities typically is $100 but we may see bets exceeding such with odds and over/unders.

The state is also allowing online betting that’s a full 180 from their previous stance on no online gambling. Online betting sites including DraftKings, BetRivers, FoxBet, FanDuel, and BetMGM who already have rolled out the opportunities to bet in Colorado with a plethora of offers/promotions to make sure sports betting in CO opens with a bang. There are a handful more on the way including BetAmerica and bet 365 who will be trying to pry into the Colorado market. The casinos may also build mobile apps and will play to the loyalty that locals have to their state brand. We may see this rolling out sooner rather than later with Coronavirus still being a prevailing problem.

Yes, COVID-19 has not gone anywhere and is still a hurdle for the sports world being that it still has a firm grip on the world as a whole. The timing of the beginning of sports betting in Colorado was supposed to be a match made in heaven with a home Rockies game and the Kentucky Derby kicking off major sports betting events. It may not seem ideal, but there are opportunities at the moment. Certain sports and competitions are still going on such as NASCAR, UFC/MMA, Premier League, and baseball in Korea. There are also talks of a return for the NHL and NBA potentially happening and football is scheduled to continue as planned. There has even been an uptick in lesser known sports such as Table Tennis and Darts to bet on with FanDuel. Local officials such as Colorado’s Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman are even more so optimistic about sports betting through the coronavirus: “If they return without fans in the stands, this can be a way that they can really follow along” Hartman stated in regard to fan presence. Hartman stands pat in the idea that people will sports bet mainly because there are not a lot of other entertainment options as it currently stands.

There are very few restrictions as to what is allowed to be gambled and what to gamble on. As previously mentioned, casinos will be in charge of their own betting limits and so will online gambling sites for sports betting. You must be 21 in order to sports bet, but this is in line with the casino age and will not be a new concept for residents. No bets can be placed on high school games, esports, or “prop bets” on college games. All other bets are good to go on the Division 1 collegiate level in Colorado which includes: Colorado State University, University of Colorado, Air Force, and University of Northern Colorado. Motorsports betting will also be allowed, and this will be interesting considering ThunderValley as well as motor cross coming to Mile High and Pepsi Center in the future.

            The community has already begun to buildup hype for sports betting with the Denver Post posting an article titled “How does sports betting work in Colorado?” as well as another article titled: “Coronavirus halts Colorado’s gaming industry impact could be ‘tremendous’ on Mountain towns.” The Post has been all over it, CBS Denver has done interviews with reps on it, and the city seems excited. The popular WestWord in Denver has already written a few articles on Colorado sports betting and how much of a positive impact it could have on Coloradans. On 104.3 FM they have made lots of “social gambling” bets and it’d be hard to imagine some of them not getting into the sports betting scene. We have already been talking spread as far as predictions goes in Denver media for years and now, we will be able to attach odds to it. News stations also cover the Colorado PowerBall so it would be hard to imagine them not also covering sporting odds and bets from time to time. Sports bars also hope to attach themselves to some mobile betting apps and sites for partnerships that bring people in to gamble and watch the games. Such sites that encourage optimism are the likes of Blake Street Tavern right in the heart of Denver by Coors Field.

            The most notable partnership for betting out of the gate has got to be the Denver Broncos’ partnership with FanDuel to be their official sports betting/fantasy football partner. This opens the door for FanDuel promotions to use the Broncos’ logo on their ads and in turn, FanDuel will be allowed to promote in the stadium, as well as broadcasts/team website. The Broncos became the first NFL team to do something like this after earlier this year the NFL announced that sportsbooks can be sponsors to individual teams. This will increase the number of bettors substantially for FanDuel due to ties to the Broncos and the Broncos easily being Colorado’s most popular team in the state.

            The Denver community is ready, Colorado is ready, and sportsbooks are ready. All we need now is for the return of sports and the de-escalation of the Coronavirus and sports betting will open a whole new world in Colorado. Coverage from newspapers, to TV, to radio is expected and welcomed. Also, here at New American Sportsbooks, we are attempting to keep up with all of the news and best bets available here in the state of Colorado. I am expecting an absolute uptick in traffic for sports betting sites, and once COVID-19 has been contained, a MASSIVE return to the casino towns in Colorado. Local news may see an uptick in traffic and ratings should they have sports betting news. Overall, Casinos may see the greatest benefits, but also mobile betting will turn anywhere in Colorado into a conversation about sports betting and it will spread like a wildfire across the state.

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