The launch of legal sports betting in Colorado is just days away.
While there is confusion as to what people will actually bet on come May 1, some news last week may serve as a compass for what it will look like when we return to “normal.”
As of last Friday sports daily fantasy and betting website DraftKings is now a publicly traded company.
While there are no major sports to bet on due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the decision makes it clear DraftKings has its eyes on the future.
According to CBS, DraftKings’ move to Wall Street was sealed last Thursday after shareholders of a blank-check company, Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., approved a merger.
CBS adds that blank check companies typically are publicly traded but have no operations of their own and aim to acquire or merge with others.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, DraftKings’ co-founder and CEO Jason Robins said he believes that the long-term outlook for sports gambling remains strong, and that the company may even benefit from pent-up fan enthusiasm when games return. As CBS said, Robins will remain as CEO in the merger.
DraftKings will also be up and running in Colorado come the May 1 launch.
DraftKings will partner with Twin Rivers Group to run both the online and retail sportsbook operations at the Golden Mardi Gras Casino in Black Hawk. This will serve as the seventh location nationwide for DraftKings.
“I hope and believe that sports will come back and people will continue to have a strong appetite for sports,” Robins told The AP. “If there is a trend away from being outdoors and going to the public places, you could actually see an increase in sports viewership once traditional sports are being played again. You could also see an increase in online activity.”
People want sports
If the NFL Draft is any indication, that pent-up enthusiasm for sports is legit.
The first night of the draft brought in a record number of 15.6 million people on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and NFL Network. That’s an increase of 37 percent on the 2019 draft.
CNBC notes, the first night wasn’t the only record-breaker.
The 8.2 million viewers who watched rounds 2 and 3 on Friday represented a 40 percent increase, while the 4.2 million viewers who watched rounds 4–7 on Saturday rose 32 percent over last year, according to the NFL.
As a whole, more than 5.5 million people tuned in to the three days of the virtual draft.
What does this all mean for Colorado?
The decision for DraftKings to go public and the success of the NFL Draft doesn’t impact Colorado in a major way.
It doesn’t accelerate the return of professional sports in the country.
What it does do is show us what sports and the sports betting world could look like in the short term: with no fans packing stadiums and with betting done remotely.
One of the major distinctions Colorado has — even over Las Vegas — is the ability for prospective bettors to sign up for the app they choose from the comfort of their home.
The ability for sportsbooks to offer that to patrons is a major reason why the SuperBook is headed to Colorado and the Lodge Casino in Black Hawk.
That means, unlike Las Vegas, when sports do return and if social distancing is still in place, Colorado casinos and sportsbooks are still open for business via apps.
That means prospective bettors won’t have to travel to Central City, Black Hawk or Cripple Creek to get on their favorite app and place a bet.
Sports on the horizon
It also appears the major sports leagues are in discussion to return when it’s safe for everyone involved.
- MLB has recently discussed playing all of its games, with all of its teams, in Arizona.
- The NBA hopes to enact its 25-day return to basketball plan.
- The NHL has created a “Return to Play Committee” that will feature league executives, NHLPA reps and players.
Confusion and doubt remain due to the coronavirus.
There are still more questions than answers.
That’s still the case in Colorado with the May 1 launch of legal sports betting just days away.
But at least on the sports and sports betting front, there could be a break in the fog.
Welcome to the digital world of sports wagering and fan-less sports.