With the retirement of the director of Colorado’s Division of Gaming, the agency must now decide on a new path forward.
Dan Hartman was instrumental in creating the agency that regulates gaming and sports betting in Colorado. As director, he’s most credited with spearheading the effort to introduce sports betting, a policy model applauded across the industry. Before that, he helped usher in the sale of marijuana in Colorado, the first state to tax and regulate recreational use of the drug. He’s also respected throughout the racing industry, directing horse and dog racing in the state for several years.
There’s no question the Colorado Division of Gaming has big shoes to fill. PlayColorado recently talked to Hartman about his legacy and to uncover how he sees the future of the agency without him at the helm.
Hartman leaves Colorado Division of Gaming better than he found it
Sports betting launched in Colorado in May 2020. Surprisingly, Colorado online sports betting went live at the same time as retail sportsbooks began accepting wagers. Many states create a system for retail sports betting well before building a framework for online betting. Hartman is lauded for putting together a system for both at the same time.
Hartman worked in public service for 31 years, much of that time spent on regulating marijuana and sports betting. To accomplish so much, one of the tools Hartman used most often was his ears.
“In both industries, you are asking people, ‘Hey, leave your guy in the alley or the guy on the corner or the offshore betting site.’ Whatever it is. You are asking them to leave that person they are comfortable with and come into a legal market where they are safe and legal and regulated and all of those things. Both of them led me to do that. I think that is how you get there. You listen and you build that regulatory environment that works.”
Hartman is humble when talking about his many accomplishments in public service. He prefers to acknowledge the work of others around him.
“If you are a good manager, you always want to leave things better than you came into them. I think we have done that. We have moved our division significantly forward. We are forward-thinking in technology; not in just sports betting, but just gaming.”
Who will be the next gaming director?
Hartman said he will not have a say in finding the person to follow him as director of the Colorado Division of Gaming. He did offer some advice to the agency as it searches for the next Hartman.
“They have to be a cohesive person within that management group, and they have to be comfortable with the person they put in place. They have to be comfortable with that person growing and understanding the industry here in Colorado regardless of who they pick. It is not up to me. We have put the division in a place where they are ready to go into the next decade. I am hoping their wisdom will put someone in there who will do that.”
The one part of the process that Hartman feels is important is to cast a wide net to find the right person for the job.
“I think that the big thing was that from the beginning that you do not know who is going to step up and come out of the process. And I encouraged them to throw a wide net and they did do a nationwide search, which does not happen in every position. I think that is important.”
At the time of this writing, a new director has not been named.
Could online casinos be coming to Colorado?
When PlayColorado asked Hartman about the potential of online casinos in Colorado, he chose not to comment. He did, however, offer some advice about the gaming industry as a whole.
Hartman’s advice was simple: stay competitive.
“I think the industry as a whole needs to stay competitive and you always have to stay competitive in gaming with the black market where they can change and do a lot of things that maybe you cannot do in a regulated market. You have to make sure you give the industry the tools to work through that, and I think we have done that. The staff that is built and the infrastructure that is built, there are a lot of smart people and they were the key to making it work anyway.
“Hopefully, whoever steps into my spot learns and feeds them the reins so they can keep running.”