Colorado sports betting launched in May 2020, six months after voters approved a referendum authorizing retail sportsbooks at casinos and statewide mobile sports betting.
Anyone 21 or older can register a Colorado mobile sports betting account from anywhere in the USA but must be located within state lines to place wagers from their desktop or mobile device.
Colorado also offers legal, regulated online horse racing betting and daily fantasy sports sites. Horse racing betting and DFS sites can apply for and receive a license from the state and can accept wagers from customers who are 18 or older.
Legal CO Betting Sites
Colorado Sports Betting
Colorado legalized sports betting during the November 2019 election when voters approved a proposal to authorize casinos in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek to operate retail sportsbooks and mobile betting platforms.
The CO sports betting law took effect on May 1, 2020, and the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (LGCC) moved quickly to make sure sports betting sites were ready to go live.
The Commission made significant progress in a short amount of time to meet the ambitious launch date. In February 2020, the Commission began issuing licenses and approved regulations to govern sports betting. That April, the Commission approved the state’s catalog of sports wagering events to clear the way for legal sports betting.
As planned, mobile sports betting went live before retail sportsbooks in Colorado. The first mobile sportsbooks in Colorado launched on May 1, and a month later, Saratoga Casino in Black Hawk booked the state’s first in-person wager.
Mobile Sportsbooks in Colorado
Legal online sports betting and mobile betting apps are available in Colorado for bettors 21 or older and located within state lines.
Mobile sportsbooks now open in Colorado:
- FOX Bet
- Elite Sportsbook
- William Hill
- Circa Sports
- SBK Sportsbook
- Sky Ute Sportsbook
Mobile sports betting providers must acquire licenses to offer their services in Colorado. To date, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission has issued licenses to the following mobile sportsbook operators:
- Penn Sports Interactive (Barstool Sportsbook)
- William Hill
- ISI Race & Sports
- Digital Gaming Corp.
888Sport and Betsson received Colorado sports betting licenses in December 2020 ahead of their intended 2021 launches. For market access, 888 is partnered with Colorado Grande Casino and Betsson is partnered with Dostal Alley Casino.
Licensed Retail Colorado Sportsbooks
More than 50 operators have applied for in-person and online sports betting licenses to date. That includes a combination of casinos seeking master sports betting licenses and operators seeking permission to manage in-person or online betting on behalf of licensed casinos.
Black Hawk Sportsbooks
Black Hawk is home to fifteen casinos and a handful of retail sportsbooks. Located just to the west of Denver, Black Hawk sportsbooks are the most convenient for sports betting fans from Denver, Boulder, and the whole northern half of the front range, looking for an in-person betting experience.
Cripple Creek Sportsbooks
Cripple Creek houses a handful of sportsbooks that provide the nearest in-person betting experience for fans in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the state’s southern half.
Central City Sportsbooks
None of Central City’s casinos have opened sportsbooks yet, but that is set to change soon.
Dostal Alley, Century Casino, the Famous Bonanza, Easy Street Casino, Grand Z Casino, and Johnny Z’s Casino have all been approved for master sports betting licenses.
How Colorado Legalized Sports Betting
Colorado legalized sports betting by first passing HB19-1327 through the legislature. The governor signed the bill into law, but because it instituted a new tax (on sports betting operators), it had to go to a statewide referendum and be approved by a majority of voters.
The question was added to the November 2019 ballot as Proposition DD and was written as follows:
Shall state taxes be increased by twenty-nine million dollars annually to fund state water projects and commitments and to pay for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos by authorizing a tax on sports betting of ten percent of net sports betting proceeds, and to impose the tax on persons licensed to conduct sports betting operations?
This measure could not have been worded worse if its goal was to turn voters off to sports betting. Proponents feared many voters would read the words “shall state taxes be increased” and instantly object without reading the rest of the question.
The awkward phrasing of the question was not, in fact, a clever ploy undertaken by anti-gambling types in Colorado. It was worded that way because Colorado’s TABOR Amendment requires all tax increases to be approved by voters and the question phrased a certain way.
The CO sports betting legislation did not actually raise taxes on anyone; it merely legalized sports wagering and established a 10% tax rate. Even so, that was enough to trigger TABOR protocols dealing with voter approval and question phrasing.
Colorado voters ultimately approved sports betting by a narrow margin.
Colorado Horse Racing Betting
Colorado horse racing betting is legal, fans (18+)can place wagers online using licensed ADWs and racebook apps, and in-person at off-track betting facilities, or live at the track in Arapahoe Park in Aurora.
CO Daily Fantasy Sports
Colorado officially legalized daily fantasy sports in 2016 with the passage of HB 16-1404. The bill established a basic registration process for fantasy sports operators and created various consumer protection regulations.
The Division of Gaming is responsible for regulating fantasy sports in Colorado. Its duties include issuing licenses to operators, investigating consumer complaints, ensuring compliance with all DFS regulations, and administering penalties to operators that violate state law.
Under state law, smaller fantasy operators (defined as fantasy sites that serve fewer than 7,500 active Colorado players) must register with the Division of Gaming but are not required to pay a licensing fee. Larger fantasy contest operators (those with 7,500+ active Colorado players) must also apply for a license and are subject to licensing fees.
Colorado DFS law also requires operators to:
- Hold player funds in an account segregated from operational funds
- Prevent anyone under the age of 18 from participating
- Prevent the sharing of confidential information available to fantasy site employees
- Submit to an annual third-party audit
- Distinguish and conspicuously identify highly experienced players as such to all other players
Recommended Daily Fantasy Sites in Colorado:
Online Gambling in Colorado
Colorado has never been a strong contender to legalize online gambling. The state’s last effort to legalize online poker was the introduction of a bill in 2013. That bill died before making any real progress and Colorado has seen no major pushes to legalize online gambling since.
The legalization of sports betting in 2019 and the launch of the state’s first online sportsbooks the following year have largely taken the focus off other forms of online gambling in Colorado. However, the revenues generated by online sports betting could potentially prompt lawmakers to take a second look at online gambling in the future.
In the meantime, sports betting, horse racing betting, and daily fantasy sports remain the only forms of legal online gaming in Colorado. State law generally prohibits all gambling that is not offered by an authorized provider.
Colorado Gambling Law
CO Rev Stat § 18-10-102 defines gambling as follows:
…risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device, or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, over which the person taking a risk has no control…”
The law includes exceptions for bona fide contests of skill, speed, endurance or strength that award prizes to participants and social gambling among friends.
The Colorado Division of Gaming states in no uncertain terms that online gambling is prohibited, both for organizers and players.
A statement on the Division of Gaming website reads in part:
Internet gambling is illegal under state and federal laws. Colorado law prohibits the transmission or reception of gambling information by any means. . . .
Many online sites advertise they are “legal” and “licensed” forms of wagering. They may be legal or licensed where the bets are received, but it remains illegal to place bets from Colorado with these businesses.
In addition, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission prohibits persons and businesses licensed in the casino industry in Colorado from having any involvement with internet gaming sites that can be accessed by Colorado residents.