Colorado has issued its first seven sports betting licenses and finalized the rules that will govern the nascent industry when it launches on May 1. Cripple Creek is poised to become the hub of sports wagering in the state, as four of the seven sportsbook licenses went to casinos in the city. Monarch Casino and Saratoga Casino in Black Hawk have also gained sports betting licenses, along with Dostal Alley in Central City. All three locations are casino towns. Black Hawk and Central City are both less than an hour’s drive from downtown Denver, so they attract visitors from the big city. Cripple Creek is close to Colorado Springs.
Each casino is permitted to launch a retail sportsbook, and one online sportsbook can operate on its license. In states like New Jersey, a casino can have three online operators tied to its license, but in Colorado, they must choose one preferred partner. British bookmaker Betfred has already tied up an agreement to be the sportsbook partner for Saratoga Casino in Black Hawk, while PointsBet – which offers both fixed odds and spread betting – will link up with Double Eagle in Cripple Creek.
The other three casinos with sports betting licenses in Cripple Creek – Midnight Rose, JP McGills and Brass Ass – are all owned by Triple Crown Casinos, which is yet to reveal which sportsbook operator it will partner with. There was an application fee of $10,000 and a license fee of $125,000 on approval. That means a license costs just $135,000 in total, and the revenue tax is 10%, which compares very favorably with the $10 million licensing fee and 34% tax that Pennsylvania demands.
In total, 28 casinos, 10 retail sportsbooks, and 13 online sportsbooks had applied for licenses at the time of the Colorado Limited Gaming Commission’s last meeting. The new regulations saw a few minor tweaks. The main change was the removal of section 8.4, which would have given the commission director the power to stop operators from using certain data sources on a case-by-case basis.
The regulatory framework still needs to be signed off by state officials, but that should be a formality. The seven casinos then need to have their sportsbooks approved by state inspectors before they can launch. The commission said it is doing “all we can” to ensure that operators wishing to launch of May 1 will be able to do so.
The NBA playoffs will be raging on by then, but there is not a great deal of sporting action in May. Sportsbooks will have a few months to ensure everything is running smoothly before the NFL season begins in September.