When Will Colorado Launch Sports Betting?
The expected launch date for legal sports betting in Colorado is May 1, 2020.
It’s possible that there may be delays as Colorado, like other states, works to mount a response to the coronavirus situation. But the state has yet to publicly indicate any plans to delay launch beyond May 1.
Online sportsbooks could still meet the launch target even if retail casinos remain shuttered. But the launch of online sports betting in Colorado requires the development and execution of numerous regulations and associated systems, a task that has no doubt become more complex as officials grapple with the fallout from coronavirus. Should online sportsbooks launch, customers will likely find a relatively thin slate of available wagers due to the lack of global sporting events.
What Brands Are Expected To Open Online Sportsbooks In Colorado?
Colorado sports betting licenses are reserved for the state’s existing casinos. Those casinos can apply for a license to operate a retail sportsbook, an online sportsbook, or both.
Colorado’s casinos then have the option to effectively share their license with another company, allowing that company to operate sports betting on the casino’s behalf. For example, the Double Eagle Casino in Cripple Creek reached a deal with international sports betting operator PointsBet that will allow PointsBet to run a legal sportsbook in Colorado using Double Eagle’s license.
Each casino can only have one online brand partner, meaning casinos will have to choose between operating their own brand online and working with an external brand.
The table below shows the current roster of partnerships for the Colorado sports betting market.
Current List Of Colorado Sports Betting Partnerships
By our estimate, 14 of Colorado’s 33 available online sports betting brand slots are currently spoken for.
|Online Sportsbook Brand||Colorado Casino Partner||Casino Parent Company|
|BetAmerica||Bronco Billy's||Full House Resorts|
|BetFred||Saratoga Casino||Saratoga Casino Holdings|
|Circa||Century Casino Cripple Creek||Century Casinos|
|DraftKings||Golden Gates||Twin River Worldwide Holdings|
|FanDuel||Golden Gulch||Twin River Worldwide Holdings|
|FoxBet||Lady Luck Blackhawk||Eldorado|
|Barstool Sports||Ameristar||Penn National Gaming|
|PointsBet||Double Eagle||Double Eagle|
|Smarkets||Christmas Casino||Full House Resorts|
|Twin River||Golden Mardis Gras||Twin River Worldwide Holdings|
|William Hill||Isle Black Hawk||Eldorado|
|Wynn||Billy's Casino||Full House Resorts|
Who Else Is Likely To Join The CO Online Sports Betting Market?
We expect the total number of online sportsbooks in Colorado to end up closer to 20 than 14. Below is a list of online sports betting brands that are active in other states, but have yet to announce a partnership that would allow them to access the Colorado market:
- Golden Nugget
List Of Live Sportsbooks In Colorado
We expect that many, if not most, of Colorado’s casinos will offer some way for patrons to place in-person bets on sports. But the casino-by-casino plan for live sportsbooks remains slightly unclear as companies work through the temporary property shutdown required by Colorado officials.
Colorado live sportsbook announcements
|Casino||Live Sportsbook Partner||More Info|
|Mardi Gras||DraftKings||More info|
What we do know is that Colorado officials have received 32 applications for master sports betting licenses so far. Some of those applications may be from companies that only want to operate online sportsbooks. But we fully expect for there to be over two dozen live sportsbooks operating in Colorado by the time the market reaches maturity.
Complete Colorado Legal Sports Betting FAQ
Absolutely. With so many casinos in Black Hawk, it’s inevitable that players will have a large number of sports betting options.
Remember, every casino in Colorado can apply for a license to offer legal sports betting. While we don’t expect that every single casino in Blackhawk will make that choice, enough will open sportsbooks that you’ll have more than enough options. That also should generate the kind of competition that benefits sports bettors by producing better pricing and promotions.
All of the Cripple Creek casinos have the ability to apply for a license to operate a legal CO sportsbook. Some may decide it’s not worth the cost, as there are only so many sports bettors to go around. But gamblers in Cripple Creek are likely to have at least a few legal sports betting options to choose from.
Yes. Expect to see legal sportsbooks at a number of Central City casinos such as the Century and the Famous Bonaza Casino.
While all of the Central City casinos in Colorado are eligible to operate a sportsbook, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all will elect to do so.
No. You only need to be located in Colorado at the time that you place the bet if you’re using a mobile device.
Legal sportsbook have a system for pinpointing your location while you’re using their app or website. They are legally required to have this system in place, as Colorado’s sports betting law only allows operators to take bets within the state of Colorado.
Signing up for legal sports betting in Colorado is similar to creating an online bank account. You’ll need to provide some personal information and verify your identity.
This is necessary for a few reasons. The first is that legal online sports betting sites need to ensure that only players 21 and older are gaining access to the site.
The second is that you’re going to be trusting the site with your payment info in order to make deposits. That means sportsbooks – just like anyone that you do business with online – wants to ensure that your account is verified and secured.
Yes. FanDuel Sportsbook has a deal with Twin River that gives FanDuel access to the Colorado market under Twin River’s Colorado gambling license.
To offer legal sports betting in Colorado, you need to either hold a Master License (reserved for the state’s casinos) or partner with a Master License holder. That’s why FanDuel – and anyone else who doesn’t operate a casino in the state – will need a partnership to operate a legal sportsbook in Colorado.
You must be at least 21 years of age to place a legal sports bet at one of Colorado’s sportsbooks or online betting sites.
Yes. DraftKings Sportsbook has a deal with Twin River that allows DraftKings to operate a legal sportsbook in Colorado.
Twin River operates multiple casinos in Colorado, which means they can operate multiple online sportsbooks in the state. The company also struck a market access deal with FanDuel, meaning that the two leading online sportsbook brands in the nation are both gaining access to Colorado’s legal sports betting market through the same partner.
Bovada is an offshore sportsbook that is not licensed and regulated by Colorado gaming regulators. That makes it an illegal sportsbook under Colorado law.
The application process is still ongoing in Colorado, so a final list of legal sportsbooks isn’t yet available. We expect a final list to be available in advance of the state’s planned launch in May.
It’s important to note that new sportsbooks will continue to launch in Colorado after the state’s official launch date. With room for up to 33 online sports betting brands under the Colorado sports betting law, we expect a steady stream of new operators over the next two years.
Unfortunately, fans of online poker will have to continue to wait, as Colorado chose only to authorize online sports betting and did not legalize online poker at the same time. Currently, there is not an active legislative effort to bring legal online poker to Colorado.
No. The only kind of online betting that is currently legal and regulated in Colorado is online sports betting. That means if you’re playing at an online sportsbook and they offer you the opportunity to play real-money online slots or table games like roulette, you are playing at an online betting site that is not legal or licensed in Colorado.
While players in New Jersey placing bets at the DraftKings sportsbook are able to play a little blackjack in between their sports bets, sports bettors in Colorado won’t have that option. The state’s legal online sportsbooks are only offering sports betting online and not any casino games such as blackjack.
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.
You can review the adopted rules and regulations for legal Colorado sports betting here.
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.
The application form for Colorado sports betting can be viewed here.
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 regulated 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.