The Rocky Mountain State is ready to join the legal sports betting coalition in the United States. The state is being realistic in terms of knowing it won’t happen until 2019, but they’ve got the correct dominos falling into place. Legislators from both parties have already begun the lobbying process to get a bill out onto the floor. Democratic Assemblyman Alec Garnett and Republican Assemblyman Cole Wist both stated they would work together towards sports betting in the state.
This isn’t surprising given Colorado’s views towards industries that others may find somewhat negative from a moral standpoint. Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana and the state has seen dramatic revenue spikes from it. Lawmakers believe legal sports gambling will bring another influx of cash for the state.
There is a complication with Colorado due to the tribal-state compacts voted in nearly 3 decades ago. Non-tribal gambling exists in 3 small towns—Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. These cities are more than 30 miles outside the metropolitan area of Denver. Obviously, these are not ideal conditions for a budding sports gambling industry. This means voters may have to approve a new plan to bring gambling closer to the big cities.
Not all are open to the idea of introducing more gambling options. In fact, the Colorado Gaming Association has stated its intent to protect the 3 brick-and-mortar establishments offering gambling options. Executive Director Peggi O’Keefe wants Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek to be the only places in the state offering legal sports betting. She also noted that she doesn’t want brick-and-mortar sportsbooks popping up on each street corner.
An interesting component of the discussion is mobile betting. Colorado has harsh winter conditions that keep people’s travel options limited. With this in mind, Assemblyman Garnett wants mobile sports gambling on the table. Weather conditions have effects on betting lines. For example, a Broncos game line could change if 8 inches of snow roll in on gameday. If residents have to travel to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook to change their bet, they won’t be able to due to the weather. Mobile sports betting would aid this problem by giving them a chance to modify or place new bets from the warm comfort of their own homes.
It is unclear at this point whether the tribal gambling establishments will host sports betting. It would seem that way given that tribes have been aggressive in other states when it comes to sports gambling legislation. The good thing about Colorado is that they have plenty of time to figure it out. They also don’t seem to be in that big of a rush to get the market launched. Better to figure out the kinks before writing something into law. We fully expect Colorado sports betting sometime next year. It is simply a matter of figuring out how it is going to work and whether or not new brick-and-mortar sportsbook locations will be built.