Colorado sports betting launched on May 1, 2020, and the state has gotten off to a terrific start. Despite launching the industry at a time when live sports were shut down in the United States, sportsbooks have still managed to see terrific growth.
History Behind Legal Sports Betting in Colorado
The state of Colorado has traditionally had some very strict laws when it came to gambling, but things started to shift a bit in 1991. That year, casino gambling was legalized for the very first time, though strict laws remained in place.
All casino gambling was restricted to casinos located in remote towns in the Rocky Mountains, and gambling limits were put in place. The maximum wager allowed was $100, limiting options for casinos.
In 2014, lawmakers attempted to expand the gaming industry, looking to approve racetrack casinos. Lawmakers also attempted to legalize online casino gaming, but both of these efforts fell short.
It wasn’t until the repeal of PASPA in 2018 that the state started looking into the possibility of legalizing sports betting. That decision by the Supreme Court paved the way for states all across the country to legalize and launch sports betting in their respective states.
Introduced in early 2019, House Bill 19-1327 set out to legalize both retail and mobile sports betting in the state of Colorado. The bill quickly passed through the state legislature and was signed into law by the governor.
In November 2019, voters were required to pass a referendum to legalize the industry, and the measure passed by the slimmest of margins. This allowed lawmakers to create rules and regulations to guide the industry, and sports betting officially began on May 1, 2020.
Retail sports betting licenses are reserved for the casinos located in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. Mobile sports betting licenses are available for operators that partner with these casinos.
The state has approved betting on both professional and collegiate sporting events.
Financial History Behind Legal Sports Betting in Colorado
Colorado has seen an increase in total sports betting handle and revenue in each month since May, and that trend is expected to continue. Even though the state launched sports betting at a strange time, the industry still got off to a strong start.
Total sports betting handle in May was $25.6 million, with all of that betting being done online since retail sportsbooks were shut down. Revenue for May totaled more than $946,000, and this was the only form of gross gaming revenue for the state.
In June 2020, the sports betting handle improved to $38.1 million, which was an increase of more than 48 percent. Revenue for June was reported at $2.16 million, which was a huge boost for the state.
July 2020 was the first month that produced some retail sports betting in the state, but mobile still accounted for 96.8 percent of all wagers. Both handle and revenue increased during this month as well.
Handle in July was $59.1 million, and revenue was $2.4 million. This was an increase of more than 55 percent in total bets made from June.
August brought an even bigger increase for the state, as the return of live sports throughout the country contributed to these numbers. Sports betting handle in August jumped up to $128.6 million, which was more than the first three months combined.
Mobile betting dominates the market in Colorado. That is why many retail sportsbooks have closed. Colorado sportsbooks won over $800 million in the first three years of existence. Over 90 percent of this action was from mobile apps.
Sportsbook Apps in Colorado
When sports betting launched in Colorado on May 1, there were just a handful of mobile apps available to residents. That has changed dramatically over the next few months.
Colorado has been able to attract some of the biggest names in the sports betting industry, which created a competitive market. There are a few sportsbook apps that stand out from the pack, but there are several options available.
The first four mobile apps available in Colorado on the launch date were DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and BetRivers, and these are some of the biggest names in the industry. These four companies were able to get a huge head start on the competition, but they have since been joined by several operators.
Here is a list of active and live mobile sportsbook apps as of November 2023:
- Betfred Sports
- Circa Sports
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- ESPN Bet
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- SI Sportsbook
With so many sports betting licenses available in the state of Colorado, this list is expected to continue to grow. International operators are looking at Colorado as a top option for launching mobile sports betting in the US.
Retail Sports Betting Locations
All of the retail sports betting in Colorado will take place in three remote towns in the Rocky Mountains. These three towns are Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek.
The state is home to nearly 40 casinos, and each property can apply for a sports betting license to offer betting. Colorado has been overwhelmed with application requests since legalizing the industry in November 2019, and it will take some time before all of the applications are approved.
Each casino will be allowed to partner with a sportsbook operator that can then offer both retail and mobile betting services. Most casinos required a retail sportsbook to be built or kiosks on the property, even though a majority of the bets would be made online. After a few years, this was shown to be a bad idea, and many retail sportsbooks closed. This includes Elite, Maverick, Sky Ute, TwinSpires, and several ISI white labels in Cripple Creek.
The Colorado casino industry is large, but some of these properties don’t see a ton of traffic based on their location. The launch of sports betting will provide more exposure to each property, but most bettors will still prefer to place their bets online or through a mobile app.
As of November 2023, there were 11 retail sportsbooks in Colorado. Nine are in Black Hawk. Most use kiosks for betting, though there are a few live windows.
Blackhawk Retail Sportsbooks
- Ameristar (ESPN Bet)
- Bally’s North (DraftKings)
- Bally’s West (BallyBet)
- Horseshoe (Caesars)
- Lady Luck (Caesars)
- Monarch (Bet Monarch)
- Saratoga (Betfred)
- Sasquatch (ISI)
- Wild Card Saloon (ISI)
Golden Nugget operates ISI kiosks at its Cripple Creek casino. There is an IGT sportsbook at Ute Mountain in the western part of Colorado. There are no sportsbooks in Central City.
Sports Teams to Bet on in Colorado
Colorado is not known as one of the best sports states in the United States, but don’t tell that to the residents. Sports fans in Colorado love their teams, especially at the professional level.
Most industry experts agree that Colorado can become a huge factor in the sports betting industry, and the professional teams will help drive the betting. College sports are also open for bets in the state, and there are some popular teams at that level as well.
The Denver Broncos are by far the most popular professional team in the state and one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. The Broncos have partnered with both BetMGM and FanDuel Sportsbook, providing a large sports betting presence inside Empower Field at Mile High Stadium.
The Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL share the Pepsi Center for home games, and this will be another stadium that will feature sports betting of some kind. Both teams are extremely popular in the state, and they will each help drive sports betting.
The Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball is another team that will help drive the industry. The Rockies are a relatively new team by MLB standards, but they have had plenty of success over the years.
In college sports, the University of Colorado and Colorado State University will provide plenty of events to bet on as well. The University of Colorado became a darling of sports bettors in 2023 with its rejuvenated football team.
FAQ for betting in Colorado
When was sports betting legalized in Colorado?
State lawmakers were able to pass a bill in 2019 to legalize sports betting throughout the state. It required voters to pass a new constitutional amendment in November 2019, and the measure passed by a slim margin. The sports betting industry officially launched on May 1, 2020.
What is the legal betting age in Colorado?
The legal age to place a sports bet in Colorado is 21 years of age. Horse racing and casino gambling also have a legal age of 21.
Is mobile betting available in Colorado?
Yes, the sports betting laws allowed for mobile or online betting throughout the state. When the industry launched on May 1, mobile betting was the only option as all of the retail sportsbooks were shut down.
Can professional sports stadiums offer sports betting?
Professional sports stadiums in Colorado cannot apply for a sports betting license. However, Professional teams in Colorado can partner with sports betting operators, and those operators can offer betting inside the stadiums.
Are Daily Fantasy Sports legal in Colorado?
Yes. In 2016, Colorado became the sixth state to legalize and regulate Daily Fantasy Sports. This allowed sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings to accept account registrations and wagers from residents of the state.
Do I have to be a resident of Colorado to place a bet?
No. Colorado state gaming law does not require you to be a resident of the state of Colorado, but you must be within state borders to place a bet. Location services are used by mobile sportsbook apps to ensure that you are making legal bets.
Can I sign up for multiple sports betting accounts?
Yes. Players may create an account at each approved sportsbook.
What group regulates sports betting in Colorado?
Colorado Limited Gaming Control and the Colorado Division of Gaming oversee and regulate sports betting in the state. These two groups must approve all license applications before operators can begin accepting bets.