Legal sports betting is on the way in Colorado. On Nov. 5, voters narrowly approved Proposition DD to allow legislators to enact sports betting legislation.
The Colorado legislature got approval for bill HB19-1327 to authorize legal sports betting subject to the referendum result plus a set of other conditions.
In summary the conditions are:
- Sports betting will be regulated by the department of revenue, subject to supervision by the existing limited gaming control commission;
- A limited number of licenses will be issued. Persons or entities currently licensed to conduct limited gaming (i.e., the owners of casinos in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek) are the only persons or entities eligible to hold a “master license” to conduct sports betting. A master license entitles the licensee to contract with a licensed “sports betting operator” or a licensed “internet sports betting operator”, or both, for the operation of sports betting.
- The state will collect a tax of 10% on the net proceeds of sports betting activity to fund implementation of the state water plan and other public purposes. Of the total amount of tax collected, after first repaying the general fund appropriation for start-up and initial operating costs, 6% is set aside annually to compensate the beneficiaries of revenues generated by limited gaming and other wagering activities for any losses attributable to competition from sports betting.
Assuming all goes to plan, legal sports betting could be available in Colorado from May 1, 2020.
The law restricts sports betting to the casinos already licensed in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek, but it allows them to offer mobile and online sports betting. As soon as they do, sports betting will be possible anywhere within the state borders.
Colorado sports betting law
HB19-1327 looks to be a positive attempt to maximize consumer protection, and state revenues while balancing support for the gaming industry.
There are three new license categories: a “Master license,” “Sports betting operator,” and “Internet sports betting operator.”
Fees and taxes are at the reasonable end of the scale. The new 10 percent sports betting tax is higher than the 6.75 percent in Nevada, but lower than in many other states. In Pennsylvania, casinos have to pay 36 percent on their sports betting revenue.
High taxes limit the marketing promotions casinos can offer and could lead to the legal internet sports betting product being noncompetitive with the illegal offshore sites. Colorado’s fees minimize the chance of players opting to continue in the unsafe offshore environment.
The law doesn’t allow for legal online poker or casino games as in places like New Jersey or West Virginia. That is in our opinion a mistake. It reduces the potential tax revenue and leaves a proportion of Colorado gamblers with no online alternative to the offshore sites.
However, Colorado has made one big concession in the new law. There is no upper limit to bet sizes. Casinos are free to set their own bet limits. This goes against the grain of the history of Colorado gambling.
The casinos in the state are only allowed to offer “Limited Gaming.” Legally this means casino-style gambling that is “limited” to:
- $100 maximum wager
- Slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps and roulette
- Historical districts in the towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek
- Tribal reservation lands in Southwest Colorado
- 35% of a building’s total space or 50% of a building floor
Any changes to these limits require statewide voter approval.
Removing the $100 maximum wager limit for sports betting is a big boost for the casinos.
When will the first bets be placed?
The current NFL season will probably be over before legal sports betting begins. May 1, 2020 is the earliest legal date that wagering could begin.
The exact launch date depends a lot on what the regulator does by way of getting its own procedures ready in time. The casinos themselves will get stuck into major remodeling programs to create sport betting spaces. But these can be easily finished by May next year.
As for online, there is now a well-rehearsed and technically proven process for getting casinos up and running with legal sports betting. The online partners the casinos choose will have no problem being ready for May.
If NFL season 2020 is out of the viable date range, NFL season 2021 is definitely inside it. The Kickoff Game will take place on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Colorado sports bettors and NFL fans will certainly be able to bet by then.
Typically states launch online and mobile sports betting a little after live sports betting. Even so that NFL season start makes for a strong motivation to get going.
Mobile sports betting now accounts for close to 80 percent of all sports bets placed in New Jersey. The industry will surely push to get its online brands into the market fast.
Where can I make legal sports bets?
Colorado has a lot of licensed casinos for a state with a population of 5.6 million. However, most of these are relatively small and may not be able or want to get into sports betting. The technology investment to operate a modern sports betting product is not cheap.
Best guess is that somewhere between 9 and 12 of the licensed casinos will take up the challenge. Casinos with the legal right to launch sports betting include both the large and small:
List of Colorado casinos
|Ameristar Casino Black Hawk||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Black Diamond Casino and Saloon||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Brass Ass Casino of Cripple Creek||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Bronco Billy’s Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Bull Durham Saloon and Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Bullwhacker’s Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Century Casino Central City||Central City||Gilpin|
|Colorado Grande Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Creeker’s Gaming Hall||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Doc Holliday Casino||Central City||Gilpin|
|Dostal Alley Brewpub & Casino||Central City||Gilpin|
|Double Eagle Hotel & Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Easy Street Casino||Central City||Gilpin|
|Famous Bonanza||Central City||Gilpin|
|The Gilpin Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Gold Rush Hotel & Casino/Gold Digger’s Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Golden Gates Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Golden Gulch Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Golden Mardi Gras Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Imperial Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Isle of Capri Casino and Hotel||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|J.P. McGills Hotel & Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Johnny Nolon’s Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|The Lodge Casino at Black Hawk||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Red Dolly Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|The Wild Card Saloon & Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Riviera Black Hawk Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Saratoga Casino Black Hawk||Black Hawk||Giipin|
|Silver Hawk Saloon & Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Sky Ute Lodge and Casino||Ignacio||La Plata|
|Teller House||Central City||Gilpin|
|Uncle Sam’s Casino||Cripple Creek||Teller|
|Ute Mountain Casino Hotel & Resort||Towaoc||Montezuma|
|Fitzgeralds Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Lady Luck Casino and Hotel||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Canyon Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Sasquatch Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
|Z Casino||Black Hawk||Gilpin|
Some of these have already confirmed that they will enter the market.
Colorado casinos with sports betting partners
To date, the Double Eagle Hotel and Casino has partnered with Australian company PointsBet. Smarkets, Wynn and BetAmerica have teamed up with Full House Resorts.
When Proposition DD passed, Ron Shell PointsBet US vice president of customer and insights commented:
“It’s probably as big as it gets for us. The most obvious reason is we have access to Colorado and offer our best-in-class product to a big state. On top of that, it allows us to push forward with our strategy of becoming the local great sportsbook in Colorado.”
PointsBet launched its first US sports betting in New Jersey but has ambitious plans to expand to other sports betting states.
Full House Resorts owns Bronco Billy’s in Cripple Creek. The day after the referendum it announced expansion plans. It is building a 150-guest room, four-star hotel adjoining and integral with the existing Bronco Billy’s Casino and Hotel.
In addition to the new luxury hotel, the expansion is expected to include a spa, parking garage, convention and entertainment space, and a high-end restaurant.
More such announcements will come as the casinos start the investment process to maximize their chances of gaining sports betting market share.
How old do I have to be to bet in Colorado?
If you want to bet in casinos in Colorado, or to make sports bets online you must be over the age of 21.
What are the limits on how big bets can be?
For all other casino games in Colorado the limit is $100. Sports betting is an exception and the casinos will set their own limits.
This also applies to the online operators.
One feature both online and live casino operators have adopted is to limit the amount certain players can bet. This policy targets professional sports bettors so will not affect recreational bettors and sports fans just looking for action on their favorite game.
Can I make bets online in Colorado?
Yes, the new law allows online bets including bets on mobile devices.
If you have an account in another state and your sports betting provider launches in Colorado, you will need to open a new account. Some operators simplify the procedures in cases like this, but you may not play on a New Jersey account, for example, while you are in Colorado.
The online operators now have excellent age and identity verification procedures in place to prevent under age gambling. No Colorado online sports betting is allowed for anyone under the age of 21.
When you have a legal online sports betting account in Colorado, you may only use it when you are inside the state.
Modern geo-location technology is frighteningly accurate. The second you step over the state border you will find that your online operator will no longer accept any more bets. Of course any bets you have placed inside the state will be honored.
How do I open an online account?
Opening an online account will be easy. Some sports betting sites operate directly through your web browser. Others require you to download an app to your computer or mobile device. Software is available for PC, Android and iOS devices.
When you have the app installed, simply follow the on-screen instructions to set up your account. Before you download anything, check that the site you are on is licensed by the Colorado Division of Gaming.
You don’t want to place bets at an illegal offshore site by mistake. Legal sites will display the The Division of Gaming logo and a statement that the site is regulated in Colorado.
Before you can place a bet you must make a deposit. Some operators allow you to make a free bet before you deposit, but in either case you must prove your identity and age before you can cash out.
This is straightforward, with some operators enabling the whole thing to be done from your mobile phone.
As soon as you have the software installed, an account in your name and funds deposited you can get started making sports bets!
How do I make a deposit at a Colorado sports betting site?
Making your deposit should be as easy as buying anything else online. The methods available should include some or all of:
- Bank cards–Debit and credit cards should both be accepted. Visa and Mastercard are standard with some operators willing to accept American Express and/or Discover cards.
- Prepaid cards—If you’ve ever used a Visa gift card or similar, you’ll be comfortable with pre-paid cards. The three main casinos are all likely to offer their own branded versions
- Bank transfers–You can use e-checks (ACH transfers), and pre-verification will speed these up. Bill pay can also work (this will depend on individual banks). If you are depositing large sums, then you can use wire transfers.
- Electronic wallet—These include PayPal, Skrill and NETELLER. Although you have to fund these from your bank account, they do make depositing and cashing out winnings effortless.
- Cash—There are two ways to fund your online account with cash. The casinos will accept deposits on site at the cage, or you can use a third party provider such as PayNearMe. Local 7/11 stores almost all offer PayNearMe services.
- Check or money order—It might seem old fashioned, but checks still work for online gaming. They can be particularly useful for large sums of money.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
Before you can withdraw your cash you must first have gone through the identification and age verification processes that prevent under-age gambling.
When you are ready to withdraw the operators will offer almost the same selection of methods as they do for deposits. Not all deposit methods can be used for withdrawals e.g. if you use a PayNearMe terminal to make a deposit you will have to use a different withdrawal method.
In the early months of the sports betting rollout, not all methods will be available, but the operators will rapidly expand their offer as they put the necessary contracts and processes in place.
There will be many special offers for new Colorado sports betting accounts
Don’t forget to take advantages of bonuses when you open your account.
These are designed to encourage you to play with one specific operator and are followed by a range of loyalty promotions to make sure you stay with your first choice.
The offers can look extremely generous, but there’s no trick, the offers are real. On the other hand, those dreaded terms and conditions apply, so you have to check the small print.
Sports betting operators think in terms of the lifetime value of a customer, so they are willing to put their money up-front to acquire new customers. They do this with new player bonuses and special offers.
Depending on the terms, you might decide to deposit more, or less money when you start. The usual introductory offers come in one of two types:
Deposit match bonus
The match bonus is where the operator promises to match your deposit with an equal amount of cash. E.g. If you deposit $200, the operator will offer 100 percent of that as a bonus.
The small print detail is that the bonus will only be released when you have bet a specific amount. Sometimes this can be several times the size of your initial deposit.
The best bonuses are those that are easiest to earn. A 1x bonus means you only have to wager the same amount as the bonus before the operator pays it into your account.
Free bets are exactly that, free bets!. The operator offers to let you bet a certain amount of money without depositing or taking it from your deposit. If you win you keep the winnings and if you lose, it costs you nothing.
There are as many variations all with their own terms. Look for the free bet that works best for what interests you, in other words, choose one where you have the best chance of winning. Often free bets are restricted to particular game types and bet types.
Don’t ignore Loyalty schemes
Customers new to sports betting can easily fail to see all the benefits a site or casino offers in the excitement of finally getting to make legal bets.
New players may not notice that their bets are earning them points in a loyalty scheme. These schemes can offer lots of valuable benefits. They are worth real cash and should not be ignored.
The operators set up loyalty schemes to help them player retention. They dedicate a percentage of their revenues to give back to players through the loyalty scheme. Different operators prioritize different players. Some want to encourage the whales, others see benefit in focusing rewards on recreational sports fans.
The standard VIP loyalty scheme offers benefits including more free bets or discounts on merchandise in the online store.
Not all sports betting operators offer a loyalty scheme, so if yours does, don’t ignore the benefits it offers.
Why do I have to be in Colorado to place a bet?
Colorado only allows betting at casinos that the state licences and at online operators partnered with those casinos.
Sports betting in Colorado is legal under state law, not federal law. As soon as you leave the state boundaries you will be subject to different state laws where sports betting may be illegal.
Will the sports betting odds in Colorado be the same as in Las Vegas?
So far sports betting odds do not seem to vary much state by state. This may change as operators learn the particular characteristics of each state market.
However, it is difficult for an operator to offer significantly different odds without risking customers moving to a site which is more competitive.
Broadly the operators in a market such as Colorado will offer odds in line with Nevada. That’s partly because the odds are what they are—the technology determines them with some expert help.
Differences to Las Vegas odds are more likely when an operator chooses to reduce the price of bets on specific games that may appeal specifically to the Colorado bettor. Big grudge matches involving local teams can be an opportunity to attract new customers with special deals, including advantageous odds.
What games can I bet on?
The Colorado law allows bets on almost any sporting event except high school sports, proposition bets on college games and e-sports that are not sanctioned by a sports governing body. Motorsports are allowed.
The good news is that the Colorado law doesn’t have a specific list of authorized sports so there should be no other unusual omissions.
The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB games are the staple of modern US sports betting. All sports betting casinos and operators will offer these. Soccer, including the big international competitions, golf, boxing and tennis are also popular, but each operator will produce their own list of sports.
The law gives the Colorado Division of Gaming authority to authorize new sports as the market develops.
What bet types are there?
Newcomers to sports betting may find that the choice of bet types is overwhelming. Even the odds are confusing to the beginner.
American odds or money line odds are quoted as a number preceded by a plus or minus sign e.g +200, -150.
The sign is important! If the sign is a +, it means you win that amount for each 100 wagered. So at +200, you win $200 for a $100 wager.
If the sign is – it means you must bet that amount to win 100, so at -150, you must bet $150 to win $100.
Some of the most popular bets with a brief explanation are:
A single-game bet is made on one sports event or match. The bet might be on the points spread or who the winner will be, but it remains a bet restricted to one match.
A teaser bet is a type of bet that allows the bettor to combine bets on two different games.
Usually, the bettor can adjust the point spreads for each games, but if this is done there is a lower return on the bet.
Parlay bets are a series of connected bets, where the winnings are only paid if all legs in the parlay win.
If you bet on six matches as a parlay bet, then you have to pick the winners for all six to win your bet. If even one of your picks loses, you lose the whole bet.
Parlay bets give the chance to win a large payout for a small outlay, so they can be a lot of fun. But remember the odds are big because the chances of winning are small.
In an over-under bet you predict the score of both teams added together. The operator quotes a line and the bettor takes either the over or the under.
Moneyline bets are the simplest of all bets. When you place a moneyline bet, you are simply betting on which team will win.
Something only developed in the last 10 to 15 years, in-game bets have become the most popular bets made in the US and around the world.
In-game bets are bets made after a game has started. They rely on timely accurate data that is only available to regulated legal sports betting providers.
This means that illegal offshore sports betting sites cannot offer any competition to the legal in-game betting of regulated operators. If you currently bet at an offshore site, in-game betting is a great reason to change, as soon as Colorado gets legal sports betting up and running.
In-game bets offer you the chance to double down on a bet that you think is a winner, or place another bet if you think your initial decision was wrong.
They also help if you miss the chance to bet before the game starts—with the new technology, the betting window doesn’t close at kick-off.
Proposition bets, also known as prop bets allow bettors to bet on a variety of different possible events in a game. The bets can be specific to the game or to an individual player in the game.
A typical prop bet may be that a specific player will score the next field goal or make the next touchdown during a game.
Bettors can also wager on things like what the points spread will be at the end of a quarter or what the total score might be at half-time.
Bettors can even wager on whether a game will go into extra time, or whether their favorite player will achieve a specific target—anything from running yards to making the longest pass.
A straight bet is a type of wager where you bet on a single game that carries either a point spread, a total or a money line.
To win a straight bet you must bet on the team that covers the spread or if the two teams cover the over or under.
What is cashing out a bet early?
Another benefit of modern sports betting technology is the opportunity to cash out a bet before the result is known.
The legal bookmakers have access to near real time data from leagues and authorized data providers like SportRadar. This allows them to calculate the odds of you winning your bet while the match is still on.
Armed with this information they can offer to pay you a portion of your winnings or cut your losses depending on how the odds have changed since you made the bet. Of course, if you take this option they charge a small percentage of the bet for the service.
On the other hand if you’ve watched a knuckle-biting game and your team has just drawn ahead to make your bet more likely to come off, then cashing out can be a big stress reliever!
What companies will be offering sports betting?
Apart from the sports betting companies that have already announced Colorado partnerships, many other big names are likely to try to enter the market.
Some of the international and US names most active in sports betting in other states are:
- Caesars Sportsbook
- William Hill
- FOX Bet
You can expect to see these names first in the casinos that launch live sports betting. Some casinos will opt to maximize their own brand, and select a technology provider as their partner. Other will make a deal with one of the big brands and coordinate promotions and marketing to help secure market share.
Who pays the new Colorado sports betting taxes?
The new taxes which will go primarily to fund the Colorado Water Plan come from the casinos, not their customers.
The 10 percent levied on sports betting is paid out of revenue and is effectively invisible to customers.
Who is the Colorado sports betting regulator if I have a problem?
Like Colorado’s casinos, sports betting will be regulated by the Colorado Division of Gaming.
This is part of the Enforcement Division of the Department of Revenue.
For general questions, you can send an email to [email protected]