It was the spring of 2020, and Colorado was set for a new adventure.
Sports betting in CO was about to launch officially, so there was both excitement and trepidation. “What would this look like?”
Then, in a flash, sporting events across the US were canceled. So, the question later became, “How do we launch a sports betting market without sports?”
The documentary, “Let’s Play: The Story of Colorado Sports Betting,” offers a detailed look at how the Centennial State got here.
‘The Story of Colorado Sports Betting’
Colorado has never been averse to change.
When the US Supreme Court struck down the federal law that prohibited sports betting in 2018, it was only a matter of time before Colorado acted.
The court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the 1992 law that barred state-authorized sports gambling. The main exception: Nevada was the only state that allowed sports betting.
Enter the Colorado sports betting bill H 1327. Almost exactly one year after PASPA was struck down, it passed the Senate by a vote of 27-8 on May 3, 2019. Gov. Jared Polis then signed it.
From there, it went to Colorado voters. Proposition DD narrowly passed on Nov. 5, 2019.
Colorado legalizes sports betting
Colorado was set to enter the world of legalized sports betting.
What made the market stand out from others is the mobile sign-up capability. So, instead of having to go to a casino to register for an app of choice, bettors can do it from their favorite chair.
Add the extensive sports betting catalog and an operator-friendly 10% tax on revenue, and no wonder there was so much excitement over Colorado sports betting. Tax proceeds go toward water conservation projects in the state.
Then in mid-March, COVID-19 strikes and shuts down the country, including sports.
Nothing like a sports betting market launch without major sporting events. Colorado was in for an adventure, but a pandemic was not in the cards.
Sports betting launches in CO despite pandemic
But the state chugged along, unfettered with the May 1 launch date.
If the market could start amid the coronavirus and no sports, the thought was there’s no limit to what it could do.
Based on the first two months of sports betting, the numbers back up that logic.
- May sports betting handle brought in $25.6 million.
- June sports betting handle brought in $38.1 million.
Expectations remain a mile high
Now, after four months, major US sports have returned. Furthermore, Colorado sports betting apps continue to launch or announce plans to enter the market.
At 7-2, the Colorado Rockies have tied the second-best start in franchise history.
The Colorado Avalanche had a heckuva return to the ice with a Nazem Kadri game-winning goal at 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation to beat the St. Louis Blues. It was the first win in the round-robin seeding for the Avalanche.
The Denver Nuggets started their eight-game seeding schedule 1-1, with the potential for a long playoff run.
All that is to say, the CO sports betting market has only scratched the surface.
Colorado was in for an adventure when sports betting became official on May 1.
Despite some major and unexpected hurdles along the way, the expectations remain a mile high for the three-month-old market.