Although Colorado sportsbooks first opened in the midst of COVID-19, the state’s legalization of sports betting is quite the achievement. When you compare the problems that other states, like New York are experiencing, Colorado’s relatively smooth legalization process is one to mimic for states looking to adopt sports betting.
New York continues to debate the legality of bringing sports betting to their casinos. The stalemate is allowing millions of betting dollars to flee to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
But how did Colorado avoid making the same mistakes that are plaguing New York? By getting the measure quickly to voters and not waiting to roll out online betting.
Colorado Pushed Sports Betting Quickly To Voters
One of New York’s big points of confusion is whether they need a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting. While some lawyers argue Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers are free to legalize, the governor is not so sure. Adding any constitutional amendment in New York needs the approval of voters via a ballot referendum.
If the New York legislature decides to create a constitutional amendment seeking voters’ approval, it would not be on the ballot until November 2021.
Colorado avoided this legal quagmire by sending Proposition DD to voters in the Fall of 2019. Instead of losing time with bureaucratic squabbling like New York, Colorado lawmakers quickly pushed the sports betting proposition to citizens.
Colorado’s Adoption of Online Sports Betting
Colorado’s sports betting proposition gave the green light statewide to the casinos to open in-person sportsbooks. The law also allowed online partnerships with some of the biggest names in the industry for all 34 Colorado casinos.
Allowing bettors in Colorado to bet on the Broncos, Nuggets, Avalanche and Rockies from the their couch is a masterstroke. States like Pennsylvania struggled in the early months without online betting and now over 80% of all bets in the state come from mobile devices.
New York lawmakers are searching for revenue sources in the wake of the crippling budget effects of the coronavirus. Sports betting supporters in the Empire State are hoping this opens the door to a bill that legalizes statewide online wagering.
How New York Could Follow Colorado to Legalize Sports Betting
Colorado’s sports betting rollout does offer a game plan to New York for a smooth transition to recapture the revenue leaving for New Jersey.
Colorado casinos are mostly located in just three cities, Black Hawk, Cripple Creek, and Central City. Having the casinos concentrated in just a few cities is an advantage that both New York and Colorado share.
New York already has limited sports betting in seven upstate casinos, but this neglects the bettors in New York City itself. Estimates peg betting in New Jersey by NYC residents at more than $800 million annually.
Once the proposition passed in Colorado, online titans such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers entered the marketplace. New York can expect a similar feeding frenzy to eager capture a share of yearly revenues that could reach well into the tens of millions.