When legal sports betting in Colorado launches on the first day of May, odds favor operators wasting no time sending out the mayday distress signal.
Colorado’s brick-and-mortar casinos were forced to close up shop after Governor Jared Polis announced on March 16 that “all on-site dining” would be prohibited to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
The executive order went into effect on March 17 and was set to remain in effect for 30 days. However, the end date has since been extended to April 30.
May 1 is the first day the Mile High state’s licensed and regulated sportsbooks can begin accepting wagers, according to the law signed by Gov. Polis and approved by a majority of CO voters on Election Day 2019.
Colorado Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman said they’re moving forward with at least getting eligible operators licensed by May 1. Regulators plan to meet next month to re-access the situation.
“We have not really approached the launch date yet,” Hartman said. “We’re still moving everything forward as far a licensing and everything to make sure we reach that May 1 date and are able to go. Those discussions certainly will happen later on, probably in April, as this COVID crisis moves forward, and we see where the casino industry is at, at this time.”
Suzi Karrer, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Enforcement Division, said 26 sports betting operator licenses had been approved so far, adding that regulators believe the May 1 launch date will happen.
“The Division of Gaming believes, from an administrative standpoint, that the May 1 deadline will be met given the current status and progress of adopting rules, approving licenses, and implementing procedures for sports betting in Colorado,” Karrer said, according to Denver Westword.
Since person-to-person contact and large gatherings are off the table until further notice, regulators will attempt to push their launch chips toward online sportsbooks and mobile betting apps. The new law allows operators to partner with established online gambling providers to accept wagers over the Internet.
Overall, sports betting during the coronavirus pandemic has taken a massive hit across the United States and around the world due to most sports leagues suspending seasons or canceling play altogether.
“The reality is, it doesn’t much matter if the leagues are closed: There is nothing to bet on anyway,” said David Farahi, the Monarch Casino and Resort chief operating officer.
However, that’s not the case for online sportsbooks licensed overseas. Everything from weather betting to the over/under on the next day Trojan condom stock price has appeared at betting sites located outside the United States.
Geoff Kulesa, a Denver-based professional handicapper, told Westword that while there are fewer sports than usual, people will always find a way to gamble on something.
“As of right now, there is a little bit of soccer going on, as well as Aussie football, and some boxing and MMA. It’s very limited,” said Kulesa. “In more interesting news, some people are betting on virtual sports, esports, and the weather!”
The coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon, and it remains to be seen if CO sportsbooks can adapt to the current climate by offering unique ways to bet—whether it be on the weather or anything else with uncertain outcomes.
But in the words of Nobel Prize recipient Bob Dylan: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”