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Colorado sports betting is not yet legal. Voters will have a ballot question that asks to approve a tax associated with sports betting in the November 2019 elections. If a majority vote in support, mobile and online sports betting will be legal in Colorado with the first bet likely coming in 2020.
The vote’s outcome will be hard to predict.
Aside from a few Native American casinos and horse tracks, commercial gambling facilities are confined to a trio of rural mountain towns. Those establishments, mostly removed from most of the state’s population centers, as well as a lottery, make up the only gaming offerings in the state.
Those restrictions have remained in place even as Colorado’s broad-minded cultural attitudes become more prevalent. A previous 2014 ballot measure to allow casino gambling at the horse tracks was overwhelmingly defeated after one of the most expensive campaigns on a single ballot issue in state history. The mountain casinos invested heavily in the “no” campaign, undoubtedly influencing voters, but the vote reiterated there are no sure bets for new gambling ventures in the state.
The sports betting vote likely won’t face the same opposing forces. The mountain town casinos will be able to take sports bets, and at least a dozen states will already take sports bets by the time voters head to the polls in Colorado. Gambling.com is closely monitoring the situation in Colorado, so follow our site for the latest developments.
Colorado online casino gambling is not legal. The sports betting question on the November ballot won’t extend to real-money online casino gambling. And if such a proposal did come to voters, it likely wouldn’t be for several more years.
There’s little support among lawmakers for online gambling, which can in part be attributed to the political influence of the state’s conglomerate of commercial casinos. Legal in-person casino gambling was authorized in the historic mountain towns of Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk as a way to generate tourism revenues as the towns’ populations continued to dwindle.
More than a century after their Wild West heyday, each of these towns now has more than a dozen licensed casinos. They wield considerable influence on the state’s gaming infrastructure, as evidenced by their campaign to thwart a possible competitor in the Denver suburbs. They seem disinclined to support an online gaming authorization that would allow players to gamble from their homes and away from the casinos.
This opposition from casinos doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon, and politicians have little appetite for a fight to expand online gambling options. A successful sports betting referendum could help thaw this resistance But real-money online casino options don’t seem likely.
Colorado online poker is illegal, just like all other internet-based casino games. Aside from charitable causes or casual games between friends, poker is restricted to the state’s licensed gaming establishments, the vast majority of which are clustered in the mountain towns. As is the case with other casino offerings, the existing brick-and-mortar facilities would like to keep those restrictions in place.
Real-money online poker seems to have gained more traction than full-scale online casino games in other states. Still, it remains a tough sell nationally. Colorado is no exception. The influential gaming establishments see little incentive to jeopardize their in-person foot traffic with online poker. Unless lawmakers react to greater pressure, online poker will likely remain illegal in Colorado.
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Colorado has just about every form of legal gambling available in other states, but has some restrictions.
Native American casinos, commercial casinos, pari-mutuel horse racing, a state-sanctioned lottery and potentially sports betting are all legal in Colorado. It’s just not always easy to access these options.
Arapahoe Park Horse Track in the Denver suburb of Aurora is the most convenient gaming establishment for the bulk of the state’s population. But the track can essentially only take bets on the horse races themselves. While other states have embraced hybrid casino-race tracks to prop up lagging attendance in horse racing-specific facilities, Arapahoe Park has not followed suit.
That’s in large part due to the state’s other high-profile gaming options. A cluster of casinos in three historic mountain towns have vehemently opposed any gambling expansions outside their towns’ boundaries. The towns hope to continue attracting visitors from the densely populated Denver metropolitan area.
All three towns are at least an hour away from downtown Denver. Online casino and poker options would likely have a welcoming demographic. But the existing gaming purveyors will fight to protect their interests.
These structural impediments to future gambling expansions will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future. Voters could take a significant step forward with the sports betting ballot measure in November 2019, but it remains an uphill climb for any substantial progress beyond sports wagering.
Lawmakers approve sports betting, subject to a voter referendum on the November ballot to approve taxing authority.
Voters reject a proposal to allow several horse tracks to offer casino-style gaming. The “no” campaign was supported in large part by the existing mountain town casinos, which contributed millions of dollars to fight the proposal.
State officials outlaw real-money online casino games, officially banning these games even before a federal crackdown in the ensuing years that thwarts online casino games and poker.
Charitable bingo and raffles are regulated under a government oversight organization.
Two Colorado Native American tribes are given tax breaks in exchange for restrictions that only allow them to offer the same type of casinos games available at the state’s commercial gaming centers.
Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City are all granted authorization to offer casino games. In 2008 voters further expand their permitted offerings as well as hours of operation.
Colorado authorizes a government-sanctioned lottery, following the lead of multiple New England and Mid-Atlantic states that authorized the games nearly two decades earlier.
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