Colorado may not be the casino capital of the world or the United States, but with more than 30 casinos spread across the towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek sports fans will have plenty of choices for sportsbooks.
Thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 unconstitutional, all 50 states now have a federally recognized right to regulate sports betting within their borders.
Colorado is one of the early states to join Nevada and Delaware in this small but growing industry. Colorado voters approved Proposition DD in November 2019, thus legalizing sports betting in their state. The Division of Gaming in the Department of Revenue oversees all gambling licensing and enforcement for the state.
To avoid creating confusion and to protect Colorado’s citizens, the Gaming Division began reviewing practices in other states that allow sports betting. Customers of Colorado sportsbook services should have an easy time learning how to use them based on prior professional sportsbook experience.
The state has authorized up to 33 sports betting licenses. The state gaming authority set up a tiered licensing system, which may lead to some confusion. Sports betting was set to begin on May 1, 2020.
The new law authorizes mobile app sports betting, and interested parties expected a boom in mobile betting activity as a result. Any professional sport recognized by state law is subject to the new betting operations, and new sports may be added.
At the present time high school and college sports and esports are not accepted for Colorado sports betting.
What sports betting license types does Colorado issue?
There are five levels of sports betting licenses in Colorado. They are:
- Master licenses are issued to existing state-licensed casinos.
- Sports Betting Operator licenses must be acquired by any service providers that contract with Master license holders to conduct sports betting operations on the Master licensees’ properties.
- Internet Sports Betting Operator licenses are required for all operators of “individually branded” websites that provide sports betting to Colorado residents.
- Vendor Major licenses are required for employees of organizations that manage or operate the financial activities of sports betting operations, the sports betting itself, hardware and software used to facilitate sports betting, the games upon which sports bets are made, or that provide “products, services, information or assets” to licensed sports betting establishments or that receive a percentage of gaming revenue from a sports betting system.
- Vendor Minor licenses are required for contractors that provide services used in sports betting operations to licensed gambling establishments.
What you need to know about sports betting
Whether people say sports book, sportsbook, bookmaker or bookie, they all refer to the same thing: a person or service that handles wagers on sporting events.
Sportsbook betting differs from traditional casino gambling in several ways. Whereas a casino runs the games like blackjack, roulette and even poker, the sports bookmaker only acts as an intermediary between bettors.
Sports betting is based on game or match scores and outcomes but also includes prop bets: propositional wagers between bettors based on potentially anything occurring within the event. Traditional sports betting covers game outcomes, point spreads, player performance and similar details for which statistics are quickly reported. Some bookmakers offer propositional betting on major elections and other high-interest events.
The typical sportsbook wager is resolved as soon as a game’s results become official. There may be some differences between the sport leagues authorizing the games and the sportsbook operators about when results become official. Bettors must abide by the sportsbook’s rules.
Another difference between sports betting and casino gaming is that if an event is canceled or otherwise not resolved, the wagers are returned to bettors. In a casino, all malfunctions void games and players may lose their wagers.
Legal bookmakers pay taxes, but there may also be excise taxes deducted from the wagers. The net result is that players receive only about $95 of every $100 wagered under Colorado sports betting law. Put another way, bettors cover the bookmaker’s fees and costs up front.
What should you look for in sportsbook reviews?
Bettors looking for a new sportsbook seek out reviews of services they’ve never used before. The best reviews should be written by people who have used the services, but you may still find some decent reviews that just describe the functions of the service.
You want to know who the bookmaker is, where it is located, how it is licensed, and how it provides its services. If a reviewer doesn’t tell you at least that much, then you’ll want to find another review.
Some sportsbooks don’t accept online bets. And state-regulated sportsbooks may impose technological restrictions on who can use their websites to place bets. What out-of-state gamblers need to know is if they can create accounts from their homes or if they must travel to the state of Colorado to be able to use a sportsbook’s website.
Good reviews explain in as much detail as possible how the sportsbooks make their money. You want to know what the commission structure is and how the odds are set. The wager-to-payout ratio is important to know as well because some sportsbooks offer better ratios than others.
A detailed review may use jargon that you’re not familiar with. Experienced sports bettors learn the terminology over time, but it can be very confusing at first. See below for some of the more common terms you’ll see mentioned in sportsbook reviews.
You’ll also want to know about banking options. The sportsbook site should explain clearly how it accepts deposits, if there are any waiting periods, how long payouts take, and what options are available for funding accounts and withdrawals. Every reviewer should discuss this important information.
Any special house rules should also be called out. The sportsbook should explain how much time bettors have to make wagers, how the final results of matches are determined and whether an appeals process is available.
Which Colorado casinos Have sportsbooks?
The following casinos are confirmed to offer sportsbooks via partnerships with established brands. Sportsbooks denoted by an asterisk (*) have yet to confirm they will offer a mobile app.
- Bronco Billy’s Casino in Cripple Creek is owned by Full House Resorts, which has partnered with BetAmerica, Smarkets* and Wynn Sports*.
- Century Casino in Central City has partnered with Circa Sports.
- Double Eagle Hotel and Casino in Cripple Creek has partnered with PointsBet.
- The Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk has partnered with FanDuel.
- The Golden Gulch Casino in Black Hawk has partnered with DraftKings.
- The Golden Mardi Gras Casino in Black Hawk has partnered with both FanDuel and DraftKings.
- The Isle of Capri Casino and Hotel in Black Hawk has partnered with William Hill.
- Lady Luck Casino and Hotel in Black Hawk has partnered with William Hill.
- Saratoga Casino in Black Hawk has partnered with Betfred.
Sportsbook Terminology You Should Know
Sports bettors use many different terms that confuse people who are just getting started. You’ll see people talk about line bets and point spreads. They refer to almost the exact same thing.
A line bet is the basic wager set by the bookmaker, taking into consideration how equal two opponents are to each other in a match. If one opponent is obviously favored to win, the bookmaker adds a point spread to make both sides of the wager more appealing.
The spread or point spread is a range of possible final scores that favors one side or another in a game or match. It’s a way to make betting on the event a little more even, especially where one competitor has a clear advantage over an opponent.
Some people describe point spreads as handicaps, such as are assigned to weaker or less skilled players in bowling leagues. But the spread determines how much a favored team must win by or how much an underdog must lose by.
Betting against the spread is betting on the team favored by the point spread, or the underdog.
A moneyline bet has no spread. Instead of wagering dollar for dollar, a moneyline bet offsets the risk by paying a higher amount if the underdog wins. When you hear people say things like, “I’ll bet you two to one he goes for the wrong door,” they are using language from moneyline betting.
In other words, the moneyline bet is an agreement between two bettors where one bettor is willing to pay more for the most unlikely outcome and the other bettor need only pay less for the most likely outcome.
For baseball, bookmakers use a run line of +1.5 for underdogs and -1.5 for favored teams. If the underdog wins the game or loses by no more than one run, the underdog bettor wins. If the favored team wins by at least two runs, the favorite team bettor wins.
A sharp is an advanced or highly skilled bettor who is more likely to place winning bets than average bettors. Bookmakers may refuse to accept wagers from sharps. Professional sports bettors who have been blacklisted as sharps may employ runners who place bets for them.
Bookmakers may lay off bets with one another to balance their wagering action. This is most likely to happen when many bettors choose the same wager or large bettors overweight the odds.
Some bettors attempt to use arbitrage strategy, where they bet against all outcomes with different bookmakers so they make a profit no matter what.
Bettors may place complicated multiple bets called accumulators, where every wagered outcome must happen for the bettor to collect. Accumulators pay higher odds than normal bets because their probabilities are so low.
There are many types of multiples or accumulators, including Canadian, Double, Exacta, Goliath, Heinz, Lucky 15, Lucky 31, Lucky 63, Patent, Super Heinz, Treble, Trifecta, and Trixie, to name just a few. Each sport may have its own unique set of multiples.
Is a sportsbook operator a betting exchange?
The short answer to this question is “no.”
A betting exchange is a software platform that you can use to set up your own propositional bets, or to accept anyone else’s bets. You can take and lay odds and set your own ratios.
The exchange charges fees for its services, and reputable exchanges use some form of escrow to ensure that bettors are paid money they are owed.
Whereas a bookmaker may not offer some kinds of bets, the betting exchanges take a more hands-off approach.
Colorado law does not provide any specific guidance on betting exchanges, but they may fall under the Internet Sports Betting Operator license.
There is no doubt Coloradans love their sports and they’re enthusiastic about sportsbooks. While the office sports pool is probably not threatened, the legalization of sports betting in the state is sure to have a profound impact on fans’ wagering habits.
The convenience of mobile betting apps will draw many fans to the industry, but serious bettors will surely want to use their laptop or desktop computers when using sportsbooks. It’s just easier to do the research on a larger screen and with a mouse and keyboard.
Even so, look for innovations in mobile sports betting apps. Small device interfaces are improving with time because they are the most popular choice for connecting to online services in America.
State residents who have no experience with geofencing should be aware that the sports betting apps won’t work across state lines. If you drive into the next state for any reason, you won’t be able to place any bets at Colorado sportsbooks.
Geofencing has proven to be a minor inconvenience in states that allow online gambling, like New Jersey and Delaware. Unfortunately it’s part of the industry and is necessary to protect states from federal regulation and interference in their sanctioned gambling activities.
Coloradans have much to look forward to, including betting on their favorite teams and athletes all year round at any time of the day. The future looks bright for Colorado sports fans.