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CO’s Ute Tribe Looking to Offer Mobile Sports Betting Statewide, Request Change

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated January 26, 2023
8 min read
  • CO’s Ute Tribe Chairman Manuel Heart Asks Legislature to Allow Statewide Mobile

  • Tribe Claims They’ve Lost Money, Commercial Casinos Argue Losses are Insignificant

  • Colorado’s Legal Sports Betting Market Has Generated a $9.7B Handle, $32M in Taxes

Colorado Ute Tribe Sports Betting

CO’s Ute Tribe Chairman Manuel Heart Asks Legislature to Allow Statewide Mobile

Legal sports betting launched in Colorado in May 2020 and their law stipulates that sports bets must be placed with authorized, legal sportsbooks and operators, but what it does not allow is for the state’s Ute tribe to offer statewide mobile sports betting the way commercial casinos can.

That is a costly oversight that Ute Mountain Chairman Manuel Heart says must be rectified as he recently pled his native tribe’s case to the Colorado legislature, that’s according to sports reporter Ollie Ring of basketballinsiders.com (BBI).

Chairman Heart asked lawmakers a simple question, according to BBI: why his tribe wasn’t consulted when the 2019 CO legislature referred the measure to a ballot that year which approved online sports betting in a way that kept his tribe from a statewide mobile market.

Reaching some level of cooperation between native and state leaders and commercial casinos is difficult to achieve, but Chairman Baker recently said in a speech:

“We can’t always agree on every issue but sometimes it’s better to disagree and work together. It’s the cooperation and willingness to work together that makes us all stronger.”

What it really comes down to, of course, is money.

Tribe Claims They’ve Lost Money, Commercial Casinos Argue Losses are Insignificant

Once the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, each state was allowed to legalize, regulate, and tax its own sports betting market, and since Colorado launched in the middle of 2020, millions of dollars of bets have been placed and subsequent revenue has been earned.

During that time, commercial casinos in Colorado have been allowed to offer statewide mobile gambling while the tribes could only offer theirs for visitors to their tribal lands, a difference that Chairman Heart told the Colorado Sun is costing his tribe potential revenue, saying:

“Time is money, and since this being passed in 2019, we’ve lost that much money with sports betting.”

However, BBI reports that commercial gaming analysts would argue that “the sports betting revenue lost by the two tribal estates is relatively insignificant and thus does not warrant a further look.”

Colorado is home to pro teams in four major leagues including the Denver Broncos of the NFL, the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, the Colorado Rockies of the MLB, and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS, all breeding sports fans who love to put money on their favorite players and teams.

And that hefty handle means large tax revenue for the state.

Colorado is home to over 5.8 million people and plenty of them love to gamble, so much so that since that legal sports betting market has been launched it has generated a $9.7 billion handle which in turn has created $637 million in sportsbook revenue.

Taxed, that money has trickled down into $32 million in tax revenue, enough money that the Ute tribe’s complaints seem well founded, an oversight that could be corrected during this legislative session that started at the beginning of January and runs until the end of May.

Meanwhile, those 30-plus commercial casinos will continue offering statewide mobile sports gambling for Colorado bettors now enjoying the NFL postseason, the NBA, and NCAA basketball and spending millions of dollars and having fun.

It’s an ongoing battle of the Ute tribe so keep checking back for all the latest news and updates regarding this unfolding story.  

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Mike Lukas

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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