Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for state sports betting legalization, gaming communities across the country have been buzzing with anticipation. Colorado is no exception. Casinos and online sportsbooks have secured licenses in droves to offer sports bets in the newly legalized state, which started allowing sports betting on May 1, 2020.
However, the new sports betting legislation comes with a litany of questions. What kinds of bets can be placed? Are any bets off limits? Who’s eligible to place these new bets? All of those questions are answered below.
The biggest of questions of course is what does the suspension of nearly every major U.S. sports league because of the coronavirus pandemic mean for CO sports bettors? Well, the 146th Kentucky Derby was in a photo finish to be among the first major events available for betting at legal CO sportsbooks, but its initial May 2 date was pushed back to September before Colorado officially launched its legal sports betting market.
Live Sports Available for Sports Betting in Colorado
There are still sports to bet on in Colorado going on right now, but they may not be what you typically watch while throwing back a few beers with friends.
- Bundesliga Soccer
- Belarus Soccer
- South Korea Soccer
- Chinese Tapipei
- KBO Baseball
- Darts – The Modus ICons
- Table Tennis – TT Star Pro Series
- Tennis Point Series
After sports betting was legalized in Colorado, the Colorado Limited Gaming Commission approved new rules for sportsbooks. The biggest swath of new allowances were the types of games that could be bet on. Here are some of the popular new sports available for wagers.
The first games that probably come to mind are the professional leagues popular in Denver. Denver is home to numerous professional teams who play in or near downtown Denver, including:
- The Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium.
- The Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
- The Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
- The Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
- The Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
- The Colorado Mammoths also at the Pepsi Center.
Beyond the local teams there are other professional leagues Colorado sportsbooks offer bets on.
Ice Cube started the BIG3, a fast-paced, 3-on-3 action tournament-style basketball league in 2017. Since it’s played during the NBA’s off-season, it could be an opportunity for basketball fans to bet on their sport of choice year-round. With the league kicking off its season in June, it could be one of the only professional sports leagues playing during the pandemic.
Colorado sports bettors have plenty of wagering options for MMA matches at sportsbooks in the state. The UFC hasn’t yet struck any exclusive partnerships with Colorado sportsbooks, but it has its own betting app it can offer sportsbooks. DraftKings, which does have partnerships with Colorado sportsbooks, has pages for betting on MMA matches and professional boxing.
Of course, minor leagues are available to bet on as well. Professional sports will likely be the first games bets are placed on, and they’ll be about as popular with college games.
Olympic and International Games
The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo have been postponed until next July, but sportsbooks will be putting odds on Olympic events. The Olympics have been explicitly recognized in Colorado’s sports betting regulations as an authorized sports event. Sportsbooks are ahead of the curve on Olympic sports betting. DraftKings runs Olympic betting contests and certainly will again, whether it’s in 2020 or 2021.
In a similar vein, Coloradans can also bet on international sports. DraftKings is running bets on international rugby games at the time of this writing. It may surprise some readers that Coloradans can bet on international sports. But according to the Colorado Division of Gaming, Colorado bets must be:
- Placed in Colorado.
- Placed in a Colorado-based sportsbook.
As long as a sport is offered in a Colorado sportsbook, bettors can place a wager. For example, soccer fans in Colorado can bet on Liverpool during their next season. Hopefully, the next Liverpool season will be just as remarkable as their 2019-2020 season.
Before Colorado’s Division of Gaming authorized betting on motorsports, Colorado racing fans only had one option: Arapaho Park’s horse track. There were no mobile bets allowed, and patrons had to be at least 18 to place a bet during a live event.
Colorado’s racing fans are no longer limited to one horse racing track. Anyone 21 and older who wants their racing fix can bet on motorsports. Colorado’s Division of Gaming has explicitly authorized motorsports in Rule One of the new regulations, expanding Colorado bettors’ options to sports like NASCAR or the 24-Hour Le Man.
Speaking of NASCAR, a recent partnership with iRacing is intended to give fans a taste of racing action, social distancing style. This spawned a new concept: eNASCAR, in which virtual races are held. eNASCAR betting is available in New Jersey and Nevada so far, and became available to Colorado bettors on May 1, 2020. One of eNASCAR’s virtual races at Texas Motor Speedway drew in a very respectable 1.3 million viewers.
Any New Approved Sport
The Colorado Division of Gaming has included future sports into its new regulations. The final section of Rule One–because government documents are that dense–allows:
“Any other sports event or combination of sports events as authorized by the Commission by Rule.” – Colorado Division of Gaming, Rule One, Section Two, Sub-Section Four.
Rule Five of the new regulations sets the terms for new sports to apply for authorization. That means sports betting can grow alongside the evolution of sports long into the future.
While Colorado has generously expanded sports betting, certain restrictions remain. Some of those restrictions ban certain types of bets, but others ban betting on some sports leagues altogether.
Colorado’s Ban On High School Sports Betting
It probably won’t surprise readers that Colorado avoided sports betting on high school sports events. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) was deeply concerned about high school sports betting after Murphy v. NCAA. The three main objections the NFHS had were:
- Exposure to problem gambling
- Separate governing bodies
- Financial vulnerability
The NFHS feared that if high school sports betting became legal, then high schoolers would participate in sports betting and risk becoming problem gamblers. This fear came from a study conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA surveyed its members and found that:
- 90% of male college sports betters placed their first bet before college.
- 82% of female college sports betters placed their first bet before college.
Needless to say, the age restriction on sports betting doesn’t reassure the NFHS.
There are also so many different high school sports organizations, the NFHS doesn’t think it can enforce anti-gambling rules. Organizations like the NCAA or any of the professional sports leagues have centralized power and vast influence. It’s easier for them to regulate and enforce than it is for disparate state organizations.
Finally, the financial vulnerability of high school athletes–and possibly their families–makes the NFHS a staunch opponent to high school sports betting. The NFHS fears that a gambler could place a bet on a team not making the point spread, which means winning or losing by a certain number of points. That gambler could then bribe an athlete with some of the winnings to miss a few goals to short the spread. That would ruin the integrity of high school athletics, and the NFHS wants to maintain it. Colorado seems to agree, so bettors won’t find a FanDuel page for high school athletics.
College Prop Bets
The prohibition of high school sports betting has something in common with college sports. The NCAA is also worried about the integrity of its games. The observant reader may wonder why college sports are fair game for sports books, but high school games aren’t.
One of the biggest differences between high school and college athletics is the power of the governing bodies. As we’ve seen, high school organizations don’t have the centralized power of the NCAA. The power of the NCAA comes with reliable and enforceable protections for college athletes, like anti-gambling regulations that are reliably enforced.
However, college athletes are still a financially vulnerable group. If an athlete’s scholarship money falls short or the college price tag stretches money at home, unscrupulous sports bettors could lure college athletes into a point shaving scheme.
The concern for the integrity of college sports is reflected in the Gaming Division’s regulations. Colorado bettors will be able to place bets on the outcome of college games but can only place proposition bets on professional games.
Unauthorized Sports Bettors
Colorado’s gaming regulations allow betting on most sports, but keeps high school sports out of sports betting, and restricts bets on college games. However, the new regulations also limit who can participate in sports betting. There are a few basics in Rule Six, like requiring bettors to place their bets themselves and prohibiting anyone under 21 from betting. But there’s one more broad category of people who are excluded from sports betting.
Anyone who can influence the outcome of a game–whether it’s a coach, a player, or someone on an athletics governing board–cannot participate in sports betting. These people can influence the behavior of players during a game or prevent the proper enforcement of anti-sports betting regulations. Colorado’s decision to keep them out of sports betting maintains the integrity of sporting events, and therefore the integrity of sports betting itself.
Bets And Bettors: What’s Allowed And What Isn’t?
There’s a dense swath of new regulations that outlines the do’s and don’ts of sports betting. Here’s an overview of what’s allowed and what isn’t:
- Professional sports leagues, including international games, are open for bettors.
- New sports can apply to be included in sports betting pools.
- High school sports betting remains illegal.
- Bettors can wager on college games but cannot place proposition bets on them.
- Bettors who are at least 21 and who cannot influence the outcome of a sports match are probably eligible to participate in sports betting.
A new community of sports bettors is about to establish itself in the Rocky Mountain State, and they have plenty of sports to choose from.