At a time when no one in the sports landscape dares commit to specific dates for any re-starts or rollouts, Colorado sports betting appears to be an exception.
The Centennial State still projects a May 1 launch date for legal sports betting within its borders. Plenty of groundwork has been laid in recent weeks, including:
- 16 sports betting licenses were awarded to a total of 11 companies in the Limited Gaming Control Commission’s late-March web conference. Heavy hitters FanDuel Sportsbook, FOX Bet and PointsBet were among those entities.
- 15 additional licenses had been issued across two prior meetings, including online licenses for DraftKings Sportsbook and theScore Bet.
- SuperBook, which already runs the popular SuperContest during NFL season in Las Vegas, announced it will partner with The Lodge Casino in Black Hawk to enter the state’s sports betting space. SuperBook received its operating license in mid-April.
Which operators are at the starting blocks in Colorado?
Assuming the May 1 date holds, what operators might be ready to hit the ground running Day 1?
Given their established platform and presence in other jurisdictions, DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook are certainly two possibilities. FOX Bet and theScoreBet will also have had full clearance to initiate their Colorado operations for several weeks by May 1. SuperBook’s mobile platform apparently also has a chance of being fully online at some point during the month.
Meanwhile, PointsBet CEO Sam Swanell has already confirmed his company is much likelier to have its rollout in the state sometime in the summer.
Colorado sports betting launch a year in the making
Sports betting in the state was officially legalized via a November 2019 referendum. The legislature’s approval of a sports betting bill in May 2019 preceded the vote, the latter required pursuant to Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights. That provision mandates any measure that will increase taxes on residents be approved via referendum.
The pertinent details of Colorado’s sports betting infrastructure include:
- Three types of licenses available: Master, Sports Betting Operator, Internet Betting Operator.
- Each of Colorado’s 33 existing casinos allowed to apply for a Master License that’s valid for two years.
- Approved casinos can partner with a land-based operator and an internet operator for sports betting. They’re also allowed to use the same partner for both.
- Colorado’s Division of Gaming has oversight of the industry within the state.
- 10.0% tax on sports betting revenue.
- Mobile betting available throughout the state.
- Must be 21 years of age or older to place wagers.
- Betting on eSports and high school sports banned.
- Team employees such as players, coaches and team officials, will be prevented from placing wagers.
Current dearth of betting options a stumbling block?
Yet if a sportsbook opens with Belarussian soccer, table tennis and darts as some of its main offerings, does it make a sound (or a profit)?
That array of options underscores the current scarcity of active competition within the surreal sports landscape engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under normal circumstances, Colorado residents would have been christening sports betting’s debut within their borders by plunking down some cash on MLB, including the home-state Rockies, as well as the NBA and NHL playoffs.
Concerns over potential infection may therefore not be as much of a stumbling block to an on-time and fruitful launch as the sparseness of betting choices.
After all, mobile betting is authorized statewide. Physical casinos — and by extension, possible retail sportsbook locations — are limited to the three Rocky Mountain cities of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Consequently, wagering can certainly be carried out safely, especially since the state’s law also authorizes remote online account creation.
The potential good news for Colorado bettors is they may not have to wait exceedingly long for the chance to wager on some popular/familiar sports.
Naturally, that’s far from a certainty at this point. But both MLB and the NBA are known to be in robust discussions about potential scenarios under which they can begin (MLB) and continue (NBA) their respective regular seasons at some point over the next 4-to-6 weeks. The NHL has also noted it’s “exploring all options” for a possible return to the ice.
Additionally, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), is on track to start its preseason April 21 and begin its regular season in early May. ESPN has even reportedly begun exploring the possibility of airing some of the games.
The combination of potentially holding games for a sport U.S.-based fans are intimately familiar with — and those contests possibly being televised by a major network — could make the KBO surprisingly popular with bettors, especially in a state like Colorado that’s just rolling out its market.
Other sports wagering opportunities besides those already mentioned that should be available on May 1 include:
- A still-scheduled UFC card unfolding on May 9, although that could naturally change over the next two-plus weeks before launch. Neverthless, other options will include fights scheduled June 6, July 1, July 5 and August 15.
- Futures on a wide array of sports, including NFL, NBA, MLB, CFL, NCAA Basketball/Football, Golf, Tennis, Horse Racing and Boxing.
- Nicaraguan soccer.