Although online sports betting has taken off in Colorado, retail sports betting locations are opening too. Brick and mortar betting locations are great social spaces. They’re sub-optimal for social distancing, but Colorado sportsbooks are fantastic betting venues as (if) the pandemic is brought under control. Here’s what Coloradans need to know about this dynamic part of the sports betting industry.
Live Sportsbooks Operating In Colorado
There aren’t many retail locations yet. However, they’re beginning to pop up as pandemic restrictions relax. Here are the ones we know about so far.
Betfred (Saratoga Casino, Black Hawk)
Betfred had the distinction of taking the first legal in-person sports bet in Colorado state history, on June 17, 2020. The bookmaker had recently announced its partnership with Saratoga Casino in Black Hawk and was ready to go the first day casinos reopened after state-mandated closures throughout the spring. Betfred also has a partnership with the Denver Broncos. The Saratoga retail sports betting window is Betfred’s second entry into the U.S. market.
DraftKings Sportsbook (Mardi Gras Casino, Black Hawk)
The Mardi Gras Casino opened the state’s second retail sports window, launched through its a partnership with DraftKings. The powerhouse national brand opened a temporary sports betting window at the Black Hawk casino on July 10. The temporary location will eventually be replaced with a “state-of-the-art” sportsbook lounge with a large bar, wall of televisions, and VIP lounge. Mardi Gras is DraftKings Sportsbook’s seventh location nationwide.
BetMonarch (Monarch Casino, Black Hawk)
Monarch Casino at Black Hawk developed its own sportsbook app in house. BetMonarch owns and operates its sportsbook. However, it also has a retail location on the second floor of the casino. The Atlantis Casino in Vegas, Monarch’s sister casino, also has a sportsbook. It’s where Monarch’s Black Hawk location gained the expertise to develop a sportsbook in-house. Betting at Monarch’s casino also earns bettors Monarch reward points. It’s a great way to earn comped meals and rooms.
Ameristar (Ameristar, Black Hawk)
Colorado’s largest casino, Ameristar, has opened a temporary retail sportsbook window and self service kiosks. Ameristar sports betting partner Penn National Gaming bought a 36% stake in Barstool earlier this year, and will use the Barstool Bets brand for the sportsbook at Ameristar starting this fall. For now, the window is self-branded.
Woody’s at Wildwood (Wildwood Casino, Cripple Creek)
The first sports betting window in Cripple Creek can be found at the new Woody’s at Wildwood at the Wildwood Casino. Woody’s features a full bar and grill, two manned betting windows and a handful of self-serve kiosks. The casino launched its own online sports betting app, BetWildwood, in June.
William Hill (Lady Luck Casino/Isle Casino, Black Hawk)
Black Hawk sister casinos Lady Luck Casino and Isle Casino have each opened a half-dozen self-serve sports betting kiosks, powered by William Hill.
Retail Sportsbook Locations
|Casino||Live Sportsbook Partner||Address|
|Ameristar||Penn National||111 Richman St. Black Hawk|
|Mardi Gras Casino||DraftKings||300 Main St., Black Hawk|
|Monarch Casino||BetMonarch||488 Main St. Black Hawk|
|Wildwood Casino||BetWildwood||119 N. Fifth St., Cripple Creek|
|Saratoga Casino||Betfred||101 Main St., Black Hawk|
|Isle Casino||William Hill||401 Main St, Black Hawk|
|Lady Luck Casino||William Hill||340 Main St, Black Hawk|
Legal Sports Betting In Colorado
In November 2019, Coloradans voted on Proposition DD, legalizing sports betting in Colorado. However, the Colorado Division of Gaming writes and enforces the rules governing the sports betting industry. The Division processes each applicant carefully before deciding whether to license a sportsbook. There are automatic disqualifiers including past felony convictions, legal entanglements, or positions of authority that could create a conflict of interest. (You don’t want the same people enforcing gaming laws operating sportsbooks.)
Bettors will find all sorts of sports to bet on in Colorado. Professional and college sports are all fair game. However, bettors will find international leagues, too. There are many international soccer leagues, but bettors can find Russian Table Tennis and darts as well.
There is a slight wrinkle in college bets, though. Colorado does not allow prop bets on college games. This was likely an effort to keep college athletes from being tempted to engaging in point-shaving scandals. Point spread bets are still available on college games. Prop bets are just the easiest bets to fulfill for athletes tempted to change their in-game performance.
Most of the sports betting landscape has been online. Colorado sports betting went live on May 1, 2020–well into the pandemic and sports cancellations. However, retail sportsbooks are beginning to open inside casinos. They’ll be more popular once the pandemic ends, but casinos can begin laying the groundwork for the post-COVID era.
Online Sports Betting Partnerships
|Online Sportsbook||Launch Date||Casino Partner||Colorado Casino Owner|
|DraftKings Sportsbook||May 1||Golden Gates||Twin River Worldwide Holdings|
|FanDuel Sportsbook||May 1||Golden Gulch||Twin River Worldwide Holdings|
|BetMGM||May 1||Midnight Rose||Triple Crown Casino|
|BetRivers||May 1||Midnight Rose||Triple Crown Casino|
|BetMonarch||May 9||Monarch Casino||Monarch Casino Resort, INC|
|SBK Sportsbook||June 4||Full House Resorts||Full House Resorts|
|Sky Ute Sportsbook||June 9||Sky Ute Casino||Sky Ute Casino|
|Circa Sports||July 1||Century Casinos||Century Casinos|
|Fox Bet||N/A||Lady Luck Black Hawk||Eldorado|
|PointsBet||N/A||Double Eagle||Double Eagle|
|BetAmerica||N/A||Bronco Billy's||Full House Resorts|
|BetFred||N/A||Saratoga Casino||Saratoga Casino Holdings|
|Circa||N/A||Century Casino Cripple Creek||Century Casinos|
|Barstool Sports||N/A||Ameristar||Penn National Gaming|
|Twin River||N/A||Golden Mardi Gras||Twin River Worldwide Holdings|
|William Hill||N/A||Isle Black Hawk||Eldorado|
|Wynn||N/A||Bronco Billy's||Full House Resorts|
|SuperBook||N/A||The Lodge||Jacobs Entertainment|
|SportsBetting.com||N/A||Johnny Nolon's||Carousel Group|
|Bet365||Agreement signed May 19, launch pending regulator approval||Century Casino, Cripple Creek||Century Casinos|
|IGT PlaySports||Partnership announced May 19||Wild Card Saloon, Sasquatch Casino||Ed and Shirley's Inc.|
|ISI||N/A||Colorado Grande, Cripple Creek||G Investments LLC.|
|PlayUp||Late 2020||Bull Durham Casino||Global Casinos|
Types Of Bets Taken At Sportsbooks In Colorado
Colorado’s sportsbooks may seem different, but many of them offer similar types of bets. Here’s what bettors will find in the Colorado sports betting market.
Common Bet Types
There are five basic types of bets that bettors will find everywhere:
- Point Spreads
- Point Totals
- Prop Bets
Moneylines are bets on the winner. They’re that straightforward.
Point spreads are bets on how close the game will be. Bettors can bet above or below the spread depending on how confident they are in their team. Point totals are similar. They’re on how many total points will be scored by both teams during the game. Bettors can bet above or below the point totals, too.
Finally, futures are bets are long-shot bets on championship winners. The odds are long, but the rewards are massive for winners.
There are different types of combination bets, too. Parlay bets allow bettors to place multiple bets at once. That makes the odds longer, but the potential rewards greater. Round robins and teasers are similar concepts, but usually with restrictions set by each sportsbook.
Colorado Sports Betting Guide
Colorado’s young sports betting market may overwhelm some bettors. Here are a few tips to get newbies started.
The Three Most Popular Sports For Bettors In Colorado
Colorado is home to several high-profile sports franchises that are indispensable to Colorado–Denver in particular. The Broncos are a tour-de-force in Denver. Mile High Stadium is always filled to the brim when the Broncos play. However, the Rockies and Avs are huge, too. Baseball is always going to be a big deal. And since the Avs are such a strong professional hockey team, no hockey fan would miss a game.
Colorado’s sportsbooks will reflect preferences and fan bases. Bettors can be sure sportsbooks will be filled with lines on the Broncos, Rockies, and Avs. They’re Colorado staples.
The Three Best Online Sports Betting Apps in Colorado (So Far)
Although many sports betting apps specialize in different areas, there are some that are strong overall.
SBK by Smarkets is among the best. Smarkets has a betting exchange in the U.K. that sets SBK’s odds. As a result, the odds are closer to fair for bettors–and often higher across the board. SBK is a must-see for bettors regardless of experience.
DraftKings has a great app and good odds. Its odds are usually strongest on the favorite to win. However, bettors will have a good experience betting at DraftKings.
Finally, bettors should check out Fox Bet. It has the best welcome bonus in Colorado. Fox Bet also has a wide range of bet boosts for bettors who like to live on the edge. There’s something for everyone at Fox Bet.
Is It Legal To Bet On Sports Outside Of Legal Sportsbooks In Colorado?
No. This should be clear, but there may be some confusion about bookies. Bookies used to be the only available betting option, but licensed sportsbooks replaced them. Licensed sportsbooks are guaranteed to have enough cash to pay out winnings. They also undergo security audits to ensure they can protect bettor money, bank information, and social security numbers.
Bookies don’t come with those same government guarantees. If they don’t pay bettors, there’s nothing bettors can do about it. Licensed sportsbooks have complaint processes that can be taken all the way to the State. Bookies have no formal complaint process.
Complete Colorado Sportsbooks FAQs
Here are some last-minute questions that bettors may need to be answered about Colorado sports betting.
Four retail sportsbook are currently open in Colorado. Betfred at the Saratoga Casino, DraftKings Sportsbook at Mardi Gras Casino, and BetMonarch at the Monarch Casino, all in Black Hawk. In Cripple Creek, Wildwood Casino has opened its own Woody’s at Wildwood retail sports betting window.
Bettors can also download and use sportsbook apps from anywhere in the state. Online betting is the best option until the pandemic ends. Bettors will have to keep waiting for TV walls and high-end bars with open tabs for a while longer.
Sports betting became legal in November 2019. However, the Colorado Division of Gaming still had to write the rules and regulations governing the sports betting market. On May 1, 2020, sports betting went live with only a few sportsbook choices. Colorado’s sports betting market has and will continue to grow.
21. The fantasy sports age is only 18, but sports betting is a separate gambling activity. DraftKings and FanDuel had to separate their fantasy sports and sportsbooks out for that very reason.
Yes. That’s what sports betting is. You can’t meet your bookie at your local Waffle House, though. Bettors must use Colorado’s licensed sportsbooks.
Yes. As long as the casinos allow it, smoking is fine. It’s why casinos have such high ceilings and why modern casinos have such good air ventilation. (Ever notice how much smokier older casinos are than newer ones?)
Yes. Even Colorado’s worst sportsbooks have live betting available. Live betting is a fun way to watch odds change in real-time. The time pressure adds an extra layer of strategy that bettors can take advantage of. That would’ve been great to know during the Broncos’ 2019 season. They’d always do great in the first half but blow it in the second. Bettors could’ve gotten amazing odds on the Broncos’ opponent with that kind of hindsight.
Mardi Gras and Monarch Casinos have completed sportsbooks. Ameristar’s Colorado sportsbook is still under construction. However, bettors can expect more casinos to offer sportsbooks as pandemic restrictions loosen. It’s hard to cram people into a sports bar safely, so bettors may be waiting a while. No casino wants to be the next coronavirus hotspot covered on CNN, after all.
Yes. Colorado’s current retail sportsbooks are all in Black Hawk. That seems to be a coincidence. Colorado’s three casino cities all want to add sportsbooks to their offerings. Bettors will likely see retail sports betting expand across the state as the pandemic finally passes us by.
Sports betting in Colorado is overseen by the Colorado Department of Revenue. While that might seem an odd fit at first, it’s worth noting that the CDOR is already the regulator for the state’s legal casino industry, making it a natural fit for the role of overseeing legal sports betting in Colorado.
The agencies within the CDOR that are directly responsible for sports betting regulation are the Division of Gaming and the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission. It’s not at all uncommon for a state to have two agencies overseeing gaming; typically, one body is charged with making the rules, and another body is charged with enforcing them.
It’s important to note that these regulations are likely to change somewhat over time. Sports betting is wholly new to Colorado, as it is to most states, and online gambling of any kind is also new to Colorado regulators.
As regulators gain more experience with both forms of gambling, they are likely to add, edit, and otherwise amend the existing regulations for legal CO sports betting.
It’s a little complicated. There are multiple tiers of licenses. The most important license is what’s called a Master License. These are restricted to the state’s land-based casinos (currently 33). The state’s two tribal casinos would also be eligible to offer sports betting, bringing the total number of potential sportsbook operators to 35.
Anyone offering sports betting in Colorado has to either hold a Master License or be in partnership with a Master License holder. That’s the critical point in this discussion. To put it another way, you can’t offer legal sports betting in Colorado unless you either operate a retail casino in the state or have a partnership with a retail casino in the state.
As the rules are currently written, each Master License holder can operate one online sports betting brand. So the number of potential online sportsbooks is also capped at 33, pending additional casinos opening in Colorado.
Colorado is generally expected to be a mid-tier market when it comes to sports betting. This is largely a function of the relatively limited population of Colorado versus more densely-populated states in the east and geographically larger states such as California and Texas.
On a per-capita basis, the story may be much different. When you look at all U.S. states on a per-capita GDP basis, Colorado does quite well. There the state is in the top 20, suggesting that Colorado is likely to punch above its weight when it comes to legal sports betting.
The market will also be helped by what is shaping up to be intense competition among multiple national operators for supremacy in Colorado. With major operators such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and William Hill fighting for share, there will be no shortage of the kind of marketing spend and promotional offers that tend to drive over-performing markets.
How big the market will ultimately be is obviously an open question. But a survey of various forecasts for Colorado’s legal sports betting market suggests that an round-number estimate of $300 million is a good starting point for understanding Colorado’s annual legal sports betting revenue potential.
The trend with legal sports betting in the U.S. has been clear: Mobile is the dominant product, generally accounting for over 75% of total activity states that offer both retail and online sports betting. In New Jersey, for example, mobile’s share of the overall market is steadily heading north of 80%.
There’s little reason to think that legal sports betting in Colorado will be an exception to that trend. Online sports betting (betting from either computers via websites or phones and tablets via apps) will be the dominant product in Colorado’s legal sports betting market. Over time, more than 90% of the revenue in the market is likely to be driven by online activity.
That’s not to say there’s no place for retail sports betting. The retail sportsbook experience is a unique one, and will always appeal to some consumers some of the time. But the sheer convenience of the online sports betting experience ensures that most consumers will place most of their bets through computers and mobile devices.
Estimates from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming call for Colorado’s legal sports betting market to reach roughly $300 million in annual revenue at maturity, with online sports betting accounting for more than 80% of that total.
Colorado taxes sports betting at 10%, meaning that the state should eventually expect to see about $30 million a year in revenue from sports betting taxes.
There are also some additional benefits for the state from legal sports betting. For example, legal sports betting will bring hundreds of new jobs to Colorado. Those jobs will generate additional tax revenue and economic activity for the state. And legal sportsbooks will spend tens of millions of dollars locally in marketing efforts, spend that will expand the economic impact of legal sports betting in Colorado.
That’s the bright side. But those gains do need to be balanced against some additional costs that will arise as a result of the legalization of sports betting in Colorado. For example, it will cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to regulate sports betting. There is also the chance that some of the money spent by consumers on sports betting is redirected from other forms of entertainment, which could offset some of the employment and economic activity gains.
Finally, it’s important to consider the overall budget picture in Colorado when thinking about sports betting’s benefits. While tens of millions of dollars is a lot of money, it does represent a tiny fraction of the overall budget in Colorado.
While there is no formal estimate of how many jobs Colorado will gain from sports betting, it’s clear that that the legalization of sports betting will bring new jobs to the state.
One useful parallel is New Jersey. A study from industry trade group iDEA Growth concluded that the introduction of online gambling resulted in the creation of some 6600 new jobs in the state.
Some jobs will come to Colorado thanks to the opening of retail sportsbooks. After all, a sportsbook needs employees, whether it’s ticket writers, servers, or the technicians and managers who keep the whole thing running.
Others will come thanks to the need for online sportsbooks to establish a presence in the state. A great example of this trend is PointsBet, who opened up a second U.S. headquarters in Denver in 2019 and continues to hire new staff to support both their Colorado and their broader U.S. sports betting efforts.