When the state’s sports betting referendum was approved by voters in November, gaming regulators in Colorado mandated that the industry be ready for launch by May 1.
In the interim, however, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has upended the worldwide sports landscape. Since March 12, every major North American, European, and Asian professional league has either suspended or postponed their seasons, while collegiate sporting events like the “March Madness” basketball tournaments have been cancelled altogether.
The complete lack of sports betting options caused by coronavirus concerns has already forced Washington D.C. to delay the launch of an online / mobile wagering app – but regulators in the Rocky Mountain State are preparing to push forward as scheduled.
Regulators Reluctant to Adjust Launch Date After Months of Prep
The Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 1327 back in May of last year, and after Governor Jared Polis signed it, the issue of regulating and taxing both brick and mortar and online / mobile sportsbooks was added to the November ballot.
Despite a vaguely worded ballot question which centered around additional taxes – to be paid only by operators – voters narrowly approved Proposition DD by a 51.5 percent margin. Under the new law, state gaming regulators had until May 1 to secure license applications from Colorado’s 33 land-based casinos, in addition to third-party iGaming operators to run online / mobile sportsbook apps.
Speaking to SportsHandle on March 30, a spokesperson for the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (LGCC) confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t changed their regulatory calculus:
“From an administrative standpoint, the May 1 date to allow legalized sports betting to take place in Colorado will be met given the current status and progress of adopting rules, approving licenses, and implementing procedures for sports betting in Colorado.”
Eleven days earlier – and just a week after the National Basketball Association (NBA) shocked the sports world by suspending its regular season – Colorado Division of Gaming director Dan Hartman expressed similar sentiments to Legal Sports Report:
“We have not really approached the launch date yet.
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.”
Licenses Get Approved as Online / Mobile Casinos Prep to Launch
On April 2, the LGCC held a meeting during which 32 additional sports betting licenses were approved.
That brought the current count of approved licenses to 64, with the 33 casinos joined by 12 brick and mortar bookmakers and 19 online / mobile operators.
Of those 19 online / mobile operators, the following 10 have already secured partnerships with local casinos:
- Circa Sports and Century Casinos
- DraftKings Sportsbook and Twin River
- FanDuel Sportsbook and Twin River
- Penn Sports Interactive and Penn National
- PointsBet and Double Eagle
- Smarkets and Full House Resorts
- Stadium Technology and Monarch Casinos
- The Stars Group’s Fox Bet and Eldorado Resorts
- theScore Bet and Jacobs Entertainment
- William Hill and Eldorado Resorts
DraftKings became the first online / mobile operator to secure license approval on March 6.
The Massachusetts-based company plans to build an onsite sportsbook within the Golden Mardi Gras in the town of Black Hawk, and while that venue’s opening won’t occur until coronavirus shutdowns have concluded, the industry leading DraftKings Sportsbook online / mobile app could be launched on Day 1.