Despite Hurdles, Colorado Sports Betting Officially Opens Today

Written By Ian St. Clair on 05/01/2020 - Last Updated on July 8, 2022
sports betting Colorado

Colorado sports betting is open for business, beginning at 10 a.m. today.

That’s a minor miracle considering the state of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sports betting is one of the few things open for casinos in the state — at least the ones that have set up betting apps and have the required licenses.

Even though most sports are still on hiatus there are still options out there for bettors, including futures options on the Denver Broncos.

While casinos in the remote mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek remain closed, the four apps that are scheduled to go live on Day 1 could serve as a lifeline of sorts.

Those four apps are:

  • FanDuel — partner with Golden Gates Casino
  • DraftKings — partner with Golden Mardi Gras
  • BetMGM — partner with Midnight Rose Hotel and Casino
  • BetRivers — partner with J.P. McGill’s Hotel and Casino

In the here and now, Coloradans are free to test their luck — even in these crazy and uncertain times.

Suzanne Karrer, communications manager of the Enforcement Division for the Colorado Department of Revenue, said the Division of Gaming was under a legislative mandate to launch sports betting on May 1.

“After assessing the current situation, the Division felt that moving forward with the initial launch date was significant enough to those operators and companies who had project plans in place that the work to be ready administratively on May 1 should continue,” Karrer said in an email interview with PlayColorado. “The Division wanted to provide the operators ready to launch with the opportunity to start if they chose to do so as part of their business decision.

“It is our reality as regulators that we can get sports betting up and running for those that want to start right now, but the excitement of the new industry for Colorado is overshadowed by what is going on in the world right now. There will be a right time for fanfare surrounding this new form of entertainment in Colorado, but right now is not that time.”

Remote signup

What makes Colorado stand out is the remote capability offered for users to sign up for the apps. In Las Vegas, once bettors choose the app they want to use, they have to go on site to a casino to register.

In Colorado, instead of going to Black Hawk, Central City or Cripple Creek, users can register from their favorite couch.

That’s not just beneficial to casinos, but also bettors — especially in the era of “safer at home,” the latest initiative by Gov. Jared Polis and the state to fight the spread of coronavirus.

“That’s one of the models that has made New Jersey, which in many ways has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success and has become a bit of a model for how you enact regulation successfully,” FanDuel CMO Mike Raffensperger said. “So we are really excited that Colorado followed that model and we’re going to bring that leadership and innovative spirit to the Rocky Mountain State.”

What to bet on

In terms of the sports you can bet on, the options are extremely limited.

In some cases, sportsbooks and fans have to dig deep to get their fix.

But there are options.

  • Table tennis
  • Darts
  • International tennis series
  • Belarusian soccer
  • Nicaraguan soccer
  • Plus proposition bets on the NFL (NFL Rookie of the Year, for example)
  • Futures bets on the Broncos, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rockies and Denver Nuggets

All of these are expected to be available later today on DraftKings, FanDuel and the other approved sports betting apps.

“I think all of the markets are important for us,” DraftKings sportsbook director of operations Johnny Avello told PlayColorado. “We’re a company that wants to continue to expand. But we believe that Colorado has a really good player base for customers that want to be engaged in the offerings that we have. We just feel it’s a really good fit.”

Here we go!

The task to get Colorado primed and ready for sports betting was steep to begin with.

Then you throw in the added chaos and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and it added more to an already stressful undertaking.

Yet here we are and sports betting has arrived in the state.

That’s a credit to the Division, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC), the sportsbooks and the casinos for the work they’ve all put in.

“The sports betting industry is a technology-driven business,” Karrer said. “With the current crisis and most of us working remotely, the Division has adopted processes and practices utilizing technology to get the administrative work for sports betting complete and ready for May 1.

“It has been challenging working in a new remote environment, but it has also allowed the Division to meet the industry where they are in the technology space.”

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Ian St. Clair

Ian is an award-winning sports journalist and a University of Northern Colorado graduate. He’s a Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. He broke into the gambling industry right as Colorado launched legal sports betting in 2020. Ian now manages the sites for some of the biggest gambling markets in North America and is an analyst for PlayColorado.

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