Dan Hartman Leaves Lasting Legacy In Colorado

Written By T.J. McBride on 06/03/2023
Colorado's longtime director of gaming Dan Hartman has retired.

Dan Hartman, now the former director of the Colorado Division on Gaming, has retired after 31 years serving the public in The Centennial State.

It’s difficult to overstate Hartman’s impact on the state over the last three decades. He’s been at the forefront of racing, legal marijuana, and also sports betting in Colorado.

He leaves a lasting legacy and shoes that will be hard to fill.

Hartman has designed programs that are the envy of other states

Hartman’s greatest achievements will be putting together the frameworks for Colorado online sports betting and medical marijuana in the state. The former has been praised for its seamless introduction. The latter has been a model that dozens of states have followed.

And both have also filled Colorado’s coffers with millions of dollars. Since the legalization of sports betting, Colorado has seen over $781 million in sports betting revenue to the state.

Before his work on gaming and marijuana legalization, Hartman directed racing in the state, both greyhound and horse racing. Hartman has always been foreword-looking.

Hartman ahead of the curve on sports betting

When he was director of racing, he began putting together a framework for sports betting regulation just in case his division was given authority over it. That foresight is what secured the director of gaming gig for Hartman.

“We as a department really looked at if sports betting does gets legalized in Colorado, it was probably coming to the Department of Revenue. There were a lot of models out there for what to do and where to go and what it would look like. At that point, we began to put together a pros and cons of each one. Is it going to go to the racing division? Is it going to go to the gaming division, (or) is it going to go to the lottery? Will it be its own division?”

Once named the director of gaming, it was his job to find the best way to bring sports betting to Colorado. He designed a system that benefited the state, operators, and bettors alike.

Hartman was even ahead of voters on sports betting

Hartman told PlayColorado that he dove in quickly and also with extreme intent.

“When they started doing all of that, that was about the time or soon after that when I was moved over to gaming and we really started taking that proactive run at it to say, ‘Look, we are not going to wait and sit here until the vote. Let’s start picking people’s brains, start working on it, start looking at what is out there already, what is working and not working, get ready with a set of regulations, and have those ready.”

A humble Hartman praises the Colorado Legislature for trusting him and his team to get the job done.

“I think they did a great job and gave us a piece of great legislation that allowed us to be proactive and move forward. It was not restrictive in a lot of ways that dictated every single step we were going to make. They said, ‘Here is sports betting and here is what we are going to do with the taxes and a few other parameters. Now go make a program.'”

“They if you want to use a horse racing analogy – dropped the reins and let us run.”

It is worth noting the legalization of sports betting has brought in over $41 million in taxes to the state, and a reported $23.8 million has gone toward Colorado water projects.

Hartman fondly remembers the challenges in his career

When Hartman was asked by PlayColorado to reflect on his long career, he quickly went back to his early days in racing.

“Just the great challenges I have been afforded. Certainly, when I was in the private sector and was in greyhound racing with my father and all of those things. Building a racetrack and doing some of those things in its heyday. Seeing it hit some of its challenges and then coming in as a regulator for greyhounds and horses.”

From Hartman’s point of view, those challenges are what opened doorways to him. Having to change and adapt to every change or challenge is also what made him into the person he is today.

“Really, the challenges I have been afforded through my career I think led to it being such a long career. I did not get stuck in one place and I never got bored with one thing. Just being able to have those challenges I think was the big thing in my career.”

Why did Hartman choose now to retire?

What made Hartman choose now to retire?

“I think ‘so long’ is where you are at there. I hit 31 years and I kind of had it in my mind that I might go until I was 65, which would be another year and a half, but … we had some personal stuff go on with our family; some tragedy and stuff. It is one of those things that I think changes your perspective when you start to look at it.”

Hartman believes he is leaving the division in a strong place to continue its work going forward.

“We passed some great legislation last year for responsible gaming and kind of changed a lot of that up – the Legislature did. Really, getting that program and getting those grants out and some of those things led me to say, ‘Well, there is always something else in gaming. There is always a next thing, right?’

“I think this was a good thing to kind of end on, but it also, I think, puts the division in a great place and puts sports betting and gaming in a good place here in Colorado.”

Photo by Colorado Division of Gaming/Courtesy
T.J. McBride Avatar
Written by
T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter with an extensive background in covering the NBA and Denver Nuggets. T.J. is Southern California native who provides news and analysis on the legal gambling industry across a number of Catena Media's regional US sites.

View all posts by T.J. McBride