What Is The Future Of Sports Betting In Colorado?

Posted on May 22, 2020

In these bizarre and precarious times, the future is no longer an escape.

Add it to the list of no sports, no movies, no restaurants, no casinos … all thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from “now more than ever,” the other phrase sure to define the last two months, and however long this goes on is, “we just don’t know.”

Here is another.

What will (fill in the blank) look like in the future?

In this case, what will sports betting look like in the future?

The future of sports betting

At least for Colorado and most of the country, we have a pretty good indication.

Since the launch of sports betting in Colorado on May 1, the fans and market have shown why sportsbooks want to be here. They are the latest group of people who want to call the Centennial State home.

So far, sportsbooks are doing well even without major US sports, aside from a few UFC events and charity golf.

So, the hope is when the likes of MLB, the NBA, NHL and PGA Tour return, the market will explode.

As for what sports betting will look like, Colorado is ahead of the curve, given it allows prospective bettors to sign up for the app they choose from their favorite chair or couch.

That remote sign-up is a major advantage, most experts agree.

“In Nevada, we’ve been offering our sports betting mobile app for six years, and during that time, it’s increased in popularity to a point it represents 70 percent of our handle,” Jay Kornegay said to PlayColorado. Kornegay is the executive vice president of operations at the Westgate SuperBook and also happens to be a Colorado native. “Now, with what we’re facing today, I can see that escalating quite a bit. Luckily, in our industry we have mobile wagering, but I think it’s going to be more popular than ever for a number of reasons.”

When you look at Nevada, keep in mind that users must sign up for the app at the brick-and-mortar casino.

So, if you take the numbers from Kornegay, the possibilities are monumental.

The key is if and when sports return.

MLB return

Major League Baseball is aiming for a July 4 return, but as ESPN points out, that relies on a dizzying array of moving parts.

As the story notes, what emerges is like nothing that has been attempted in the history of American sports, less a baseball season than a military-style operation in which any number of variables could derail the plan, or worse, contribute to the spread of the deadly disease.

If MLB and the players’ union can come to an agreement, a return of the Colorado Rockies will attract a new batch of bettors.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has stated he’s on board with a return of the Rockies.

“We are ready for a baseball season and eventually for a football season,” Polis said. “Especially in these times of high anxiety, we need our diversions and we need our sports.”

NBA return

The NBA appears close to deciding on a July return for the continuation of its season, though Commissioner Adam Silver will make that call in the next few weeks.

NBCSports highlights what the timeline could look like if the NBA goes ahead.

According to the story, players could report back to team markets in early June and do individual workouts. Then somewhere in the final week to 10 days of June, formal training camps would start at team facilities.

The story adds that by mid-July, teams would travel to a “bubble city” or cities (likely Orlando, and maybe still Las Vegas as a secondary spot) and a handful of regular-season games would tip-off – getting teams to 70 games total.

After that, the playoffs would begin, with a seven-game series for each round.

In terms of specific dates, NBC Sports says training camp would start on June 21 and the regular season on July 15.

Given the Denver Nuggets seemed primed for a deep playoff run, the excitement from fans would both rekindle and perhaps make them more inclined to bet.

Prior to the cancellation of games in mid-March, Denver was third in the Western Conference standings.

The potential for a huge boon for sportsbooks is not overstated if center Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets can return to what they were pre-pandemic.

NHL return

The same is true for the Colorado Avalanche.

Elliotte Friedman, with SportsNet, was the first to report on a 24-team, conference-based playoff setup.

While no date was given on when this could start in the future, the format is intriguing.

As Friedman stated in his 31 Thoughts piece on Friday, no matter what playoff format gets picked, someone will hate it.

SportsNet’s Chris Johnston reported on Thursday night that the NHLPA’s executive board (that’s the 31 player representatives) is voting on the conference-based “play-in” proposal. The hope is we know the results on Friday night.

Similar to the Nuggets, Avalanche fans would love to see a return to the ice.

The Avs were among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Before games were canceled, Colorado was second in the Central Division and Western Conference standings.

That’s relevant for the 24-team playoff format since the Avs would sit at the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

“To be honest with you, I like to keep it simple: Whatever gets us back and playing, I’m 100% for. Whether that’s 16 teams, 24 teams — 30 teams, 31 teams — whatever gets us back and playing I’m 100% on board with,” Avs defenseman Ian Cole said in an interview with The Denver Post.

PGA Tour return

The lone sport to have an official return date is the PGA.

Golfers return to the links on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.

Before that happens, The Match is set for Sunday.

Former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will partner with Tiger Woods as they take on Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson.

It’s the first opportunity for Broncos Country to bet on an event in which Manning is involved.

What: The Match: Champions for Charity Peyton Manning/Tiger Woods vs Tom Brady/Phil Mickelson

When: 1 p.m. MST Sunday (May 24)

Where: Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, FL

Watch: TNT, TBS, TruTV and HLN

Four of the best to ever play in their respective sports head to the links for a must-watch event aimed at benefiting coronavirus relief.

As of now, Manning and Woods are the slight favorites.

DraftKings has Manning and Woods at -195, while FanDuel has the pair at -198. Brady and Mickelson are at +165 and +160, respectively.

With the launch of the Fox Bet app earlier this week, there are now six apps that offer sports betting in Colorado since the launch on May 1. That is out of 17 that will launch in the future.

  • DraftKings: Partner with Golden Mardi Gras
  • FanDuel: Partner with Golden Gates Casino
  • BetMGM: Partner with Midnight Rose Hotel and Casino
  • BetRivers: Partner with J.P. McGill’s Hotel and Casino
  • BetMonarch
  • Fox Bet: Partner with Lady Luck Casino

SPORTS BETTING IMPACT ON COLORADO CASINOS

Since the consensus is that sports betting is headed to more mobile sign-ups, what does that mean for Colorado casinos?

According to Daniel Holmes, when the gaming industry does bounce back, it can reap the full benefits of sports betting. Holmes is a gaming partner for the public accounting firm RubinBrown. He made a presentation at Thursday’s Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC) meeting.

But others view the economic benefits of sports betting as minimal at best.

Mark Grueskin, the legal counsel for the Colorado Gaming Association (CGA), said in Thursday’s meeting that he doesn’t see sports betting as serving as a significant buffer against the economic realities now faced by the state’s gaming towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek.

Grueskin said, for most casinos, the sports betting margins are thin.

“You have some haves and have nots,” Grueskin said.

Future of sports betting II

There is no question the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on all facets of life.

Even the future we once looked to for escape has become a victim.

But sports betting seems poised to return, and in a massive way.

In Colorado, the ability to sign up remotely and return of the Nuggets and Avs will likely increase excitement and the potential handle.

And that’s before Drew Lock and the Broncos take the field.

So, while the last two months have felt like 84 years, life and sports are slowly returning to normal.

“I think for the better, there will be some changes, but not noticeable changes,” DraftKings sportsbook director of operations Johnny Avello said to PlayColorado. “What I mean by that is, we’re going to see sports again soon, and some of those sports we’re going to see without fans in the stands.

“So that really doesn’t make a difference to the person who’s making the wager, except maybe their handicapping is going to be a little bit different. Home-field advantage, home-crowd noise that plays into it sometimes. So I think that’s going to be a minor change for the people who are betting online.

“The people who are going to the actual event? Well, of course, there are a lot of unknowns there. Are we going to actually have people in the stands? And when will that take place? For betting purposes, though, I feel pretty confident that we’re going to be back to somewhat normal in the very near future.”

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Ian St. Clair

Ian St. Clair is an award-winning sports journalist. He is a University of Northern Colorado graduate, Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics.

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