Colorado voters said yes to sports gambling last year, and it’s now time to get things going. While the state may have missed out on Super Bowl LIV, and will miss out on the NCAA’s March Madness, as well, at least there will be something happening before the start of the next NFL season. Casinos are anxiously waiting for the next 88 days to pass, and have already begun to put their sportsbooks in place, waiting for the big day.
Colorado’s sports gambling industry officially goes live on May 1. DraftKings and FanDuel are already set up to begin taking bets, thanks to a partnership with Twin River Worldwide Holdings, and Ameristar is putting the final touches on its sportsbooks now. The VP and GM of Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk, Sean Demuele, explains, “(We’re) thrilled that the voters passed sports betting last November. We’re starting to plan how we’re going to roll it out here at Ameristar. We’re going to start with a sportsbook here on property, working on the design right now. We’re taking what’s been done in Vegas and improving on that.”
Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek are three Colorado cities that are going to split a total of 33 sports gambling licenses among their casinos. The Colorado Division of Gaming (DOG) is reviewing applications and will ultimately be the one to determine who wins and who doesn’t.
According to data from the DOG, there hasn’t been a shortage of interest. Through January 16, it has received over 51 applications and, since only 33 licenses will be issued, someone is going to walk away disappointed. However, this doesn’t mean that those not given a license can’t receive one in the future. According to the DOG, “The Division of Gaming is conducting prep work now to make sure all those qualified applicants who applied for a temporary license have one in place so they can begin on May 1, if they are ready.”
Colorado lawmakers, with a nod of approval from state residents, were smart enough to foresee how a robust sports gambling framework would benefit the state. Online gambling is going to be allowed, which means wagering enthusiasts won’t have to travel to one of the three cities in order to place their bets. In other states that have legalized online sports gambling, this segment has consistently outperformed all other possible options. This is going to hold true in Colorado, where the average age, according to Demuele, is lower than that of typical gamblers.
There is still some fine-tuning of the regulations that needs to be done before the activity is launched in May. Some of this was taken care of last Friday, but more will follow. Contrasting language exists in the current draft that has to be eliminated, and certain controversial rules could face the chopping block before the first wagers are made.