Colorado Approves Fixed-Odds Horse Betting for 24-Month Period

Written By Dan Holmes on 11/30/2023
Graphic of a Colorado flag along with horseracing and betting icons on a story about the state approving new rules around fixed-odds horse race betting.

Colorado’s gaming governing body, the Limited Gaming Control Commission, approved rule changes earlier this month that permit fixed-odds horse wagering in the state.

In a vote on Nov. 16, the LGCC unanimously supported changes to its rules to allow licensed sports betting operators to offer fixed odds on horse racing. This brings to an end a long effort by proponents of horse racing in the state, dating back to 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that cleared the way for states to expand gaming offerings. Colorado joins New Jersey as the only states to allow fixed-odds betting on horse races.

Several Colorado sports betting operators, including Bally Bet Colorado, had expressed their support of the rules change in letters to the LGCC.

The state had language in its regulations, under section Rule 5, that permitted a trial period for fixed-odds since 2022. However, that language was set to expire in late November 2023. That rule allowed sports betting licensees to request permission to offer fixed-odds on horse races. However, Colorado has outlawed dog racing.

The new rule, approved on Nov. 16, will expire in 24 months. It’s believed that some sports betting licensees will petition to offer fixed-odds on horse racing in the future in Colorado.

In its letter of support to the LGCC, Bally’s, which owns and operates four gaming facilities in Colorado including Black Hawk West Casino, asserts that “the ability to offer a fixed-odds horse racing product in Colorado will allow Bally’s and the horse racing industry to capture a new and broader audience.” The letter goes on to predict an increase in purse sizes, which could “add to Colorado’s tax revenue stream.”

FAQ about fixed-odds horse racing

The primary difference between fixed-odds horse racing and what most bettors in Colorado and the rest of the United States are familiar with, is timing. With fixed odds horse racing, the bettor can lock in their odds several hours, and even days before the horses take their first hoof-steps.

What are fixed odds?

Fixed odds are locked in odds from a sportsbook that do not change based on the betting volume. In traditional parimutuel betting, odds are fluid, based on how many bets are wagered on each horse and other factors. For example, in parimutuel betting a customer picks a horse to win, perhaps the same day of the race. But betting activity later can shift the odds and change the possible winning amount.

But with fixed-odds horse racing, the bettor gets odds locked in. For example, grab +200 (2-to-1) odds on a horse to win, and be assured that your odds are set. It’s just like betting on the moneyline of an NFL or NBA game.

With fixed-odds horse racing, Colorado sports fans can place bets on a favorite horse just like they wager on the Denver Nuggets and Avalanche.

Fixed odds new to US, old hat to Europe and Australia

A bettor who wants to lay down a large chunk of money on a horse race will be hesitant to do so until the very last minute, if they do it at all. Because they can’t be sure what the odds will be. However, with fixed-odds, a sharp or big money bettor is more likely to put down his or her wager, knowing exactly how much they stand to win or lose on the outcome.

While fixed-odds betting has been implemented in markets like Australia and Europe, it’s a new product category for U.S. consumers and sports betting operators in this country. So far, no large sportsbook has agreed to offer fixed-odds for horse racing in this country. It’s possible that emerging gaming companies could grab that market. In New Jersey, track owners, the state, jockey unions, veterinary organizations and horse industry professionals have been coming together to create a monetary structure that benefits everyone involved.

Once the details are figured out, some experts believe fixed-odds horse racing could be a popular entertainment for Colorado bettors, especially for marquee events like the Kentucky Derby.

Photo by Shutterstock / Illustration by PlayColorado
Dan Holmes Avatar
Written by
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

View all posts by Dan Holmes