Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Colorado?
Sports fans in the Centennial State are gearing up for a change but for right now, sports betting is not legal in Colorado.
Following the US Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to give each state the authority to legalize sports betting, many states such as New Jersey and Delaware immediately jumped on board and started offering legal betting on sports.
Other states, Colorado included, took a more cautious approach.
In this guide we’ll explain everything you to know about CO sports betting including:
- Major developments in Colorado’s effort to legalize sports betting.
- When and how we expect people in Colorado to be able to start betting on sports.
- Whether it’s legal to bet on daily fantasy sports (DFS) in Colorado.
We’ll also give the current situation some context with a quick Colorado gambling history lesson and take a look at the state’s favorite sports and teams to get an idea of what the betting action is going to focus on when legalization finally comes to the Centennial State.
Colorado Legal Sports Betting at a Glance
2018 came and went without much action on the issue from Colorado lawmakers but we’ve already seen encouraging signs that legal sports betting will be discussed in the state legislature in 2019.
Experts predict millions of dollars in potential tax revenue are up for grabs and a couple of key politicians are even pushing for a statewide vote on the matter.
There is some disagreement between politicians about what is and isn’t allowed under the current laws and state constitution. We’ll get into that in more detail in the next section.
Either way it appears that residents will at least have a chance to voice their opinions on whether they want legalized sports gambling in their state.
Challenges aside, it all adds up to a very optimistic forecast for the future of legal sports betting in Colorado. While it could happen sooner, we expect casinos in the state to start accepting sports wagers sometime in 2020.
The Current Online Sports Betting Situation in Colorado
With a relatively large population of 5.6 million, teams in all four major pro leagues and a healthy network of land-based casinos already operating in Central City, Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and the Four Corners region, it doesn’t seem like a stretch for Colorado to start offering sports betting too.
State Representatives Cole Wist, R-Centennial, and Alec Garnett, D-Denver are two of the biggest proponents for legal betting.
“It seems to me it’s a no-brainer. We should have the conversation to see if this is something we as a state want to do,” said Wist.
“I think it’s important to go back to the voters and make sure it’s something that they want.”
Even if a majority of Coloradans support legalization, a few key issues still have to sorted out.
Disagreement Over Current Laws and Constitution
One of the most important arguments is over what laws need to be changed and whether the state’s constitution will have to be amended to allow sports betting.
Colorado Department of Revenue Executive Director Michael Hartman pointed to Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes that contains specific wording prohibiting sports gambling.
That’s just one side of the discussion, however. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman offered her legal opinion on the matter, saying:
“After conducting a full legal analysis I have determined that commercial sports betting is not subject to state constitutional restrictions, but is prohibited gambling under Colorado’s current criminal code,” said Coffman in her statement. “Whether or not sports gaming should be legalized in our state will ultimately be up to the legislature to determine.”
Colorado Sports Betting Laws Summary
Here are the most important takeaways regarding Colorado’s current laws and how they play into future legalization:
- While lawmakers and regulators thought sports betting in the state could be against the current constitution, a legal review by the State Attorney General has shown that sports betting doesn’t impinge on Colorado’s constitution.
- That being said, it is still illegal to gamble on sports based on Title 18 in the Colorado Revised Statutes. This law also bans online gambling which will have to change for legal sportsbooks to offer online betting options in Colorado.
- This matter will be explored and discussed in more depth by state lawmakers during 2019.
Another factor working in Colorado’s favor is that’s it’s one of only five states in the country were all six categories of gambling are allowed in some form.
These six types of gambling allowed include charitable, commercial, lotteries, parimutuel, racetrack and tribal. Card betting is also allowed to some extent.
Even though online sports betting is still illegal in the state and things are moving slowly, it does look like progress is being made.
The History of Online Sports Betting in Colorado
While some states have a long, drawn out and varied history regarding sports betting, there aren’t a ton of events in Colorado that are specific to the state. It’s sufficient to say that sports betting in Colorado hasn’t been at the forefront of public discourse.
That being said, there are some quirky laws in Colorado that have affected the sports betting landscape. Let us look at some of the federal activity and state-specific activity that brought us to the current situation in Colorado.
1910 - Ban on Gambling
Leading to the federal ban in 1910, gambling was starting to become more popular in the stats. As settlers made their way to the United States, they brought along table and card games for the common citizen to bet on. Often, these gambling setups were unlawful, unregulated and unfair.
There were also a number of lotteries across the United States that were outright scams. These were both problems for decades leading into the 20th century, which led to the Western ban on all types of gambling in 1910.
1930s - Gambling Comeback
After the great depression, gambling slowly made its way back into Colorado. In 1933, limited forms of gambling were once again legalized in the state in bars.
1991 - Legal Colorado Casinos
In November of 1990, Colorado legislators set their sights on casino gambling and in 1991, the state allowed casinos to be built in three towns: Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City.
All three are considered historical towns. The decision to limit casinos to these three locations was meant to reinvigorate the historic sites and raise money for the state through taxes and regulations.
1992 - PASPA Stops Colorado Sports Betting
Legal gambling was on the rise in Colorado but sports betting was never included thanks to a key law passed by the federal government in 1992. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act basically banned sports betting everywhere in the United States save Nevada.
2014 - Racetrack Gambling Bill Fails
Gambling was only legal in Casinos in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City and a bill was introduced to expand those locations to include racetracks in other parts of the state. It was put to a vote and the proposal lost by a huge margin with 70% of voters objecting.
Which Online Sports Betting Sites Are Legal in Colorado?
At the moment, there are no online sports betting sites that are legal in Colorado. If and when legalization occurs, the jury is still out on whether it will include online betting options too.
Make sure to check back on this page to find out what becomes available. We’ll have expert reviews on the best online sportsbooks in Colorado to help you find the CO sports betting site that’s right for you.
Until that happens, the closest thing is betting on horse and greyhound racing. People in Colorado have two options for online betting.
- TVG.com - This online betting platform gives gamblers access to over 150 race tracks around the world and even lets you watch the races live within the app.
- BetAmerica.com - Another website to bet on live horse racing, and they match your first deposit up to $100 dollars. The user interface is friendly to those who aren’t used to using horse race betting websites.
What Sports Can You Bet on Online in Colorado?
Right now there are no sports you can bet on legally in Colorado. That will change in a big way if it one day does become legal, however.
People in CO will be able to bet on all major North American leagues, college sports and other popular leagues and teams from all over the world.
We expect the same massive list of betting options that we’re already seeing in other states that have legal sports betting.
There are also a number of local sports franchises that are sure to attract a ton of the betting action. Colorado is home to the:
- Denver Nuggets (NBA)
- Denver Broncos (NFL
- Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
- Colorado Rockies (MLB)
The state also has teams in lots of other sports and leagues like the NCAA, MLS soccer, the Central Hockey League, rugby, lacrosse and minor league baseball.
Is Betting on Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Colorado?
Good news. Colorado has legalized access to daily fantasy sports betting sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel. The legislation came down on June 10th, 2016, and the it specifically made it legal to bet on DFS in Colorado.
Fantasy sports betting is available for betting on the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL but does not include NCAA college sports.
The last thing to note is that DraftKings and FanDuel are the only two daily fantasy sports websites that are approved and legalized for use in the state of Colorado.
While some people won’t like the monopolized aspect of having only two options available, the reality is that these are your best options until other websites can be legalized and approved by the state. We do not recommend using illegal websites for daily fantasy sports betting.
What Is the Future of Online Sports Betting in Colorado?
The future is bright if you’re looking forward to betting on sports legally in Colorado but it’s not going to happen overnight.
It’s hard to predict exactly when online sports betting will become legal. What happens during the first part of 2019 should tell us more about what to expect.
Both political parties have expressed interest in legalizing sports betting and Democratic Assemblyman Alex Garnett has been particularly vocal on the matter, tweeting:
“Pulled the bill title to explore Colorado solution to legalized sports betting. Why should Coloradans have to travel to Vegas to bet on #Broncos winning #SBLIII?”
However, Garnett and others in positions of political power will face resistance in the state moving forward.
The Colorado Gaming Association has already signed a letter of intent to restrict all sports betting to the existing legal casinos that only exist in certain areas of the state.
Additionally, memories of what happened in 2014 when the state attempted to expand casino gambling into race tracks and was overwhelmingly voted down are giving lawmakers pause.
State Representative Alec Garnett said, “It was a brutal fight between businesses that played out with the electorate in 2014. We have to create some compromise here, so that doesn’t happen again.”
Will Online Sports Betting Ever Be Legal in Colorado?
In a word, yes, online sports betting will eventually be legal in the Colorado. Even though there is some resistance, and even though Colorado has been slower to react than some other states, there are too many powerful factors working in favor of legalization.
Other states are already benefiting from the tax revenue generated by new legal sports betting industries and with over 5 million people in Colorado, the state would be passing up a significant new source of money.
Walker Stapleton, who ran for governor in 2018 and lost, suggested that a 15% tax on sports betting revenue could generate up $1 billion per year for the state. While that figure has been contested, it’s clear that there is a lot of money on the line.
Research firm Eilers & Krejcik conducted a study that estimated the state’s potential profit at $259 million per year.
Legal Sports Betting Likely Coming to Colorado in 2020
The biggest things standing in the way of legal sports betting in Colorado are:
- Necessary changes to existing laws.
- A statewide vote to see if Coloradans really want the be able to bet on sports and in what form.
- Consensus from lawmakers and casino groups on where and how sports betting will be offered.
Tom Downey, a regulatory attorney in Colorado told media when referring to legalization, “lightning speed would be January 1st, 2020.”
Make sure to check back on this page for big developments in Colorado’s efforts to allow betting on sports.
For more information on sports betting laws in other parts of the country, check out our state by state legal sports betting guides.