So far, 2023 has been a year of transition for sports betting in Colorado. In any growing industry, there are bound to be mergers, acquisitions, and comings and goings.
Colorado has said goodbye to five sportsbooks in the last few months.
One of the more puzzling exits was that of Elite Sportsbook Colorado, which shut down in June with little explanation. Loss of that brand elicited lots of questions from customers and few answers.
Why did Elite Sportsbook shut down in Colorado? What market forces were at play? Will we see another sports betting app take its place? What will the future of Colorado sports betting look like?
Elite had market deal with Red Dolly Casino in Black Hawk
Both Colorado online sports betting and retail betting began in May 2020. Just three months later, in August 2020, Elite Sportsbook debuted in Colorado. The company entered the market through a partnership with Red Dolly Casino in Black Hawk.
Elite Sportsbook Colorado marked the second state where Elite was active. In 2019, the company launched in Iowa, in partnership with Grand Falls Casino in Sioux Falls.
In both Colorado and Iowa, Elite made kiosks available for customers in their partner casinos. At the time of launch, Elite Casino Resorts CEO Dan Kehl praised the unique features of his company.
“Elite Sportsbook will have one of the strongest offerings in the Colorado market. Our Progressive Parlay is exclusive and not available with any other Colorado sportsbook. Exclusive options like this and the most user-friendly platform available make Elite Sportsbook the best choice for Colorado sports bettors.”
Elite Casino Resorts owns and operates casino resorts in two states:
- Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in Riverside, IA
- Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport, IA
- Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in Larchwood, IA
- Grand Island Casino Resort at Fonner Park, NE
The company also plans to open Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort in Carterville, IL.
Elite abruptly exits Colorado in June
In early June, Elite made a simple announcement on its website and via its app that any bets dated after June 19 would be voided. The company urged its customers to withdraw any funds by June 30.
The Elite Sportsbook website is no longer functioning; not even a statement exists. No contact information can be found for the sports betting division of the company. Calls to the company’s former 800 number go to voicemail.
As of Aug. 10, Elite Sportsbook Iowa is still available for download in that state.
Most likely, the reason for Elite’s sudden shutdown in Colorado is the dominance of sports betting dollars by industry leaders like DraftKings Sportsbook Colorado and FanDuel Sportsbook Colorado. In most states, those two operators have garnered a large portion of the total handle. In some, the two leaders account for more than 60% of the market share.
Elite Resorts is still chugging along, planning an expansion with its revamped casino in Illinois. It just seems online sports betting didn’t pan out (Colorado mining term) in this state.
Other sportsbooks have shut down in Colorado this year
Earlier this summer, Bally Bet, Maverick Sportsbook, and Sky Ute Sportsbook shut down in Colorado. In the case of Bally, the betting app promises to return once it transitions to the Kambi betting platform. PlayUp also shuttered operations in Colorado this year. Last year, Twinspires Sports and Casino shut down in Colorado, citing poor performance in the crowded market.
Colorado is unique in that it does not report each sports betting operator’s revenue and total handle in the state. However, we do know that since it launched sports betting in 2019, there have been more than $12 billion in total wagers placed, resulting in more than $43 million in tax revenue through June of 2023.
Even with Elite leaving Colorado, there may be new sportsbooks on the horizon in the state.
Earlier this week, PENN Entertainment announced a partnership with ESPN to offer a sportsbook in states where Barstool is licensed. There is a Barstool Sportsbook Colorado, so it might only be a matter of time before ESPN Bet takes its place.
Another mammoth brand, Fanatics, is planning a sports betting app that may also rear its head in Colorado in the future.