Colorado was the first US state in the post-PASPA era to legalize sports betting via referendum, and the first betting apps just went live on May 1, 2020.
Voters approved Proposition DD by the narrowest of margins in November 2019, making their Centennial State the 19th with legalized betting. The new CO sports betting law contains full provisions for both retail and online wagering in the state.
The first legal sports betting apps are live for bettors in Colorado:
Each of the 30+ Colorado casinos is eligible to apply for a master license and align itself with up to two partners — one for online and one for retail.
The vast majority of them are commercial properties located in one of three gambling towns: Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. The other two are tribal casinos located in the southwest corner of the state known as the Four Corners region.
|Casino||Location||Partner(s)||Retail opening||Online launch|
|Ameristar Casino||Black Hawk||Barstool Bets|
|Brass Ass Casino||Cripple Creek|
|Bronco Billy's Casino||Cripple Creek||BetAmerica/Wynn Sports|
|Bull Durham Saloon & Casino||Black Hawk|
|Century Casino Central City||Central City||Bet365|
|Century Casino Cripple Creek||Cripple Creek||Circa Sports|
|Christmas Casino||Cripple Creek||Smarkets|
|Colorado Grande Hotel & Casino||Cripple Creek|
|Dostal Alley||Central City|
|Double Eagle Hotel & Casino||Cripple Creek||PointsBet|
|Easy Street Casino||Central City|
|Famous Bonanza||Central City|
|Gilpin Hotel & Casino||Black Hawk|
|Golden Gates||Black Hawk||FanDuel||May 1, 2020|
|Golden Gulch||Black Hawk|
|Golden Mardi Gras Casino||Black Hawk||DraftKings||May 1, 2020|
|Grand Z Casino||Central City|
|Isle Casino Hotel||Black Hawk||William Hill|
|Johnny Nolon's Casino||Cripple Creek||Carousel Group|
|Johnny Z Casino||Central City|
|JP McGill's Hotel & Casino||Cripple Creek||BetRivers||May 1, 2020|
|Lady Luck Casino||Black Hawk||Fox Bet||May 19, 2020|
|Lodge Casino||Black Hawk||SuperBook|
|Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino||Cripple Creek||BetMGM||May 1, 2020|
|Monarch Casino||Black Hawk||Stadium Tech||May 8, 2020|
|Red Dolly Casino||Black Hawk|
|Saratoga Casino||Black Hawk||Betfred|
|Sasquatch Casino||Black Hawk|
|Sky Ute Casino||Ignacio|
|Ute Mountain Casino||Towaoc|
|Wild Card Saloon||Black Hawk|
|Wildwood Casino||Cripple Creek||ISI Race & Sports|
|Z Casino||Black Hawk|
Like many states, Colorado’s sports betting framework is built around its land-based casinos. There are three main types of license:
Only licensed Colorado casinos can apply for master sports betting licenses, which are required to offer any form of sports betting in the state.
If a master licensee wishes to allow an outside company to operate a sportsbook on its behalf, the latter requires the appropriate type of operator license. There can only be one of each type of operator license per master license. A casino can, however, choose one partner for its retail sportsbook and another for online.
Additional vendor licenses are required in cases where the primary licensee needs to subcontract part(s) of their operation to yet another company.
Colorado sportsbooks can offer lines on a number of sports and contests. That includes college athletics, although these will be limited in terms of types of bets available. Betting on sports where the participants are minors is disallowed, as it is in other states, and high school sports are expressly forbidden.
Some of the most popular sports leagues for US bettors include:
More obscure options depend on the operator, but you’ll likely find some foreign sports alongside less popular games like darts and table tennis.
Colorado lawmakers decided upfront to rule out esports betting, something that other state regulators are considering and in some cases have allowed.
For the most part, Colorado sportsbooks offer the same options as those in other states with legal sports betting. These include:
Operators provide all of the typical options for combining straight bets, such as parlays and round-robins. A full menu of in-play betting options should additionally be available from most operators.
The Colorado law does have one unique restriction, however — a prohibition against prop bets on college sports.
Sports betting in Colorado is taxed at the same rate regardless of whether it is conducted online or at a land-based casino. In both cases, the tax rate is 10% of gross winnings.
License fees are fairly trivial — just $2,000 for master licenses and $1,250 for operator or major vendor licenses. Elsewhere, up-front fees can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Unlike other states, tax rates for Colorado sports betting are locked in. The state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) means that any attempt by legislators to change them would require another public referendum.
Colorado legislators say they expect sports betting to generate $29 million in annual tax revenue, which implies $290 million in gross revenue. It may take a while to get there, however. Revenue for the first year or two of operation will more likely be in the $100 million-$200 million range.
Below are some common questions and answers related to online sports betting in Colorado.
Yes! Colorado voters legalized sports betting in 2019, and the first apps launched in May 2020.
Yes! The CO sports betting law contains full provisions for online wagering.
Approval for sports betting in Colorado includes both retail and online operations. The timing of a retail rollout is less clear at the moment, as the coronavirus pandemic has forced all of the state’s casinos to temporarily close their doors.
All sports betting in Colorado, both retail and online, must be carried out in partnership with one of its land-based casinos.
Each casino can apply for a master license to offer sports betting, either on their own or in partnership with other third-party suppliers. Licensees can use one partner for retail sports betting and another for online sports betting for a maximum of two.
Colorado’s brick-and-mortar casinos act as the primary licensees for sports betting, both retail and online. Each can deploy a single online platform, either by itself or in partnership with a third-party supplier. That means Colorado bettors could eventually have access to more than 30 online sportsbooks.
With a middling population of around 5.6 million residents, however, it’s not yet clear if the market can support that many options.
Broadly speaking, anyone at least 21 years old who is physically present in the state can bet legally. Residency is not a requirement, but location is.
Standard wagering prohibitions also apply, such as for key employees of the casinos or sportsbook providers, those with affiliations to the sports being wagered on, and those who have self-excluded or been barred from entry into the state’s land-based casinos.
The state of Colorado taxes sports betting revenue at a rate of 10%.
The Colorado Limited Gambling Control Commission (CLGCC) regulates online sports betting in the state.
17301 W. Colfax Ave.
Golden, CO 80401
Phone: (303) 205-1300
Email: [email protected]
The first forms of legal gambling in Colorado were pari-mutuel wagering on races and charitable bingo, both dating back to 1950.
The state lottery was established in 1982 and was initially limited to scratch tickets. Land-based casino gambling then came to the state in 1991.
Things took a turn in the opposite direction in 2005, when the state explicitly outlawed online casinos. Around the same time, the tribal casinos agreed not to offer any forms of gambling not available at the commercial casinos, receiving a tax break in return.
The following year, the federal government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and began its years-long crackdown on illegal online gambling.
In 2016, Colorado became the fifth state to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports. It was, perhaps, a sign of changing attitudes towards online gambling among the state’s legislators. Then, in 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), and the possibility of sports betting was suddenly on the table.
House Bill 1327, legalizing sports betting, passed the state’s legislature in April 2019. It couldn’t become law immediately, however.
Colorado’s Tax-Payer Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires that any law implementing a new tax get direct voter approval by way of a referendum before it can become law. That included H 1327, due to its 10% tax on operators’ gross revenues.
That November, Colorado voters went to the polls to cast their ballots on Proposition DD. Over 1.5 million people voted in the referendum. In the end, the Proposition passed by a margin of less than 3% — with 800,745 in favor and 756,712 opposed.
The first CO sports betting apps rolled out on May 1, 2020, while casinos were closed down due to the coronavirus outbreak.