Is Sports Betting Legal in Colorado?

Numerous studies have shown that a majority of Americans want sports betting to be legal. It's no different in Colorado.

Industry advocates would prefer if the issue was settled soon, not on a voting ballot. If it goes to a vote, residents in Colorado would have to wait until 2020 before they could walk into a sports book and place their bets on their favorite sports teams — like the Denver Broncos or Colorado Rockies.

If Coloradans prefer the convenience of playing online, top sites like Bovada offer action on all major sporting events.

Betting Laws in Colorado

More than 5.6 million people live in the Centennial State. Denver, which is the state’s capital, is also the largest city with 700,000 residents.

Gambling, whether it's horse racing at Arapahoe Park or the slots at the Ameristar Black Hawk casino, is regulated at the state level.

All legalized gambling within Colorado is limited to the following areas:

  • Casino gambling
  • Tribal gambling
  • Online gambling
  • Daily fantasy betting
  • Horse racing
  • Lottery
  • Social gambling
  • Charitable gambling
  • Bingo and raffles

Gamblers have to be 21 years old to play in casinos and poker rooms, but 18 to bet on horse racing and the state lottery.

Colorado casinos

The state has nearly 40 casinos, and all are located in three towns (Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek).

Those are the only places in the state where it is currently legal to develop and operate a casino. Many Colorado casinos are open 24 hours a day and also offer lodging, dining and entertainment. Central City and Black Hawk are located within a mile of each other, just 34 miles west of Denver. Cripple Creek is 48 miles west of Colorado Springs.

In Colorado’s Four Corners region, there are also two casino-resorts run by American Indian tribes in the towns of Ignacio and Towaoc.

Unlike some other states that are moving toward sports betting, Colorado’s casino gambling market is on the upswing. According to the American Gaming Association, the state’s 2017 gaming revenue of $828.1 million was the highest ever recorded by Colorado’s commercial casino industry, surpassing the previous record set in 2007.

Horse racing

Colorado does have racetracks, which like New Jersey, could operate sports books. However, the state’s commercial casino industry has successfully opposed those facilities expanding their gambling options.

Racinos are still not a part of the Colorado horse world and Arapahoe Park is the only active track in the state, running a mixed thoroughbred, quarterhorse meet from May to August.

State lottery

The Colorado Lottery, which began in January 1983, initially sold only scratch tickets. Even today, the state offers fewer draw games than most U.S. lotteries. It is now also part of the multi-jurisdictional games for Powerball, Lucky for Life and Mega Millions.

Colorado Sports Betting Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law banning sports gambling in most states in May 2018. Several states — like New Jersey — passed preemptive laws that provided framework for legalized sports gambling to take place almost immediately.

Colorado legislators did not take similar action. With state legislators from both parties already lobbying for Colorado sports betting, a legislative push in 2019 appears likely. Do not expect a smooth transition, however. Colorado law places major restrictions on the location of casinos and on what would need to happen to change the statute.

“Any expansion of gaming beyond the constitution would require legislation and a vote of the people,” said Meghan Tanis, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Gaming.

See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:

Colorado’s Major Sports Teams

Denver Broncos (NFL)

The Denver Broncos, who began play in 1960, were barely competitive during their 10-year run in the AFL and their first seven years in the NFL. They did not complete a winning season until 1973.

Since 1975, the Broncos have become one of the NFL's most successful teams, having suffered only seven losing seasons. They have won eight AFC championships and three Super Bowls (1997, 1998, 2015), but share the NFL record with five losses in the league championship game.

Colorado Rockies (MLB)

The Colorado Rockies, who were established in 1991, captured their first National League championship in 2007 when they won 14 of their last 15 games. They were then swept in the World Series by the Boston Red Sox.

The Rockies were Major League Baseball's first team based in the Mountain time zone.

Denver Nuggets (NBA)

The Denver Nuggets, founded in 1967, qualified for the NBA playoffs for nine consecutive seasons in the 1980s and 10 straight seasons from 2004 to 2013. They have won seven division titles in the NBA, but have never won a conference or league championship.

Alex English is the all-time leading scorer in the regular season for the Nuggets with 21,645 points.

Colorado Avalanche (NHL)

The Colorado Avalanche, who were founded in 1972, are the only team in their division not based in the Central time zone.

The Avalanche have won nine division titles (including their first eight in a row in Denver, the longest streak in NHL history) and qualified for the playoffs in each of their first 10 seasons in Denver, with that run ending in 2007.

The team has also won two conference championships and two Stanley Cup Finals (1995-96, 2000-01).

Useful Links

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