Saratoga Casino Black Hawk Opens First Retail Sportsbook In Colorado


Saratoga Casino Black Hawk accepted its first sports wager earlier this week becoming the first casino in Colorado to open a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, Colorado Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman announced at Thursday’s Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission meeting.

The sportsbook, powered by Betfred USA Sports, wrote its first bet on Wednesday coinciding with the reopening of the Black Hawk property after a three-month hiatus due to the spread of COVID-19. The first wager was a $100 bet on the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl (odds of 55/1), Betfred USA COO Bryan Bennett told COBets. 

A similar trend developed last month when a number of mobile sports betting operators wrote their first tickets on the Broncos upon the debut of legalized sports betting in Colorado on May 1. Last month, former Nuggets All-Star guard Chauncey Billups placed the first wager at BetRivers, a $100 bet on Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Sports betting partnership with Broncos

Betfred USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Manchester U.K.-based Betfred Group, also announced the signing Tuesday of a multi-year sponsorship agreement to become an official partner of the Broncos. Betfred plans to open a sports betting lounge outside Empower Field at Mile High under the agreement.

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with Saratoga and are excited to be part of the rich gaming community in Black Hawk,” Bennett said in a statement. “We knew we needed to be aggressive upon entering the Colorado market with a Vegas-quality sportsbook and a sponsorship agreement with the Denver Broncos, one of the premier franchises in US sports.”

The Broncos came to terms on a similar agreement with FanDuel Group on Monday. The franchise is the first NFL team to notch a partnership with a sportsbook operator since the league changed its policy earlier this year, allowing clubs to sell sponsorships to sportsbooks.

Befred intends to launch an online sports betting platform shortly before the start of football season, the company said in the statement.

Licensing action

The LGCC approved more than two dozen licenses Thursday in the Vendor Minor License category. A Vendor Minor License is required for “any person and/or entity who provides services for or acts on behalf of an establishment licensed” to operate sports betting gaming, who is not required to obtain a Vendor Major License, according to Colorado sports betting regulations.

Prominent companies that received licensure approval Thursday:

  • IMG Arena US
  • The Denver Post
  • Gannett Satellite Information Network
  • USA, Inc.
  • Occupy Fantasy, LLC
  • Roto Sports, Inc.
  • Strange Thoughts Ltd

In addition, the LGCC set sports betting operating fees for Fiscal Year 2021 on Thursday by a unanimous vote. An Internet Sports Betting Operator Licensee will be assessed a fee of $77,000 for the fiscal year, up from $54,000 during the previous year. Sports Betting Operator Licensees, or brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, will be assessed a license fee of $17,900, compared with $12,500, over the prior fiscal year.

The LGCC also amended language in the state’s sports betting regulations at Thursday’s meeting. In April, the LGCC recommended an emergency modification to the Division’s definition of a proposition wager. On Thursday, the LGCC approved the permanent adoption of Sports Betting Rule 1.4, which defines prop wagers as bets “specifically naming an individual participant or team thus constituting a bet upon the actions of that individual or position, regarding the occurrence or non-occurrence of a certain outcome during an event that does not directly reflect the event’s final outcome.”

The LGCC requested clarification at a previous meeting in April on language regarding whether sportsbooks could accept prop wagers on individual athletes in collegiate sports events.

Optimistic start for first month of legalized sports betting

In May, Colorado reported an unaudited sports betting handle of $25.5 million, according to the Division of Gaming. Hartman pointed to elevated activity on  Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, UFC wagering and NASCAR betting as the main drivers for May’s handle.

“The feeling around the industry is that it shows that this is going to be a viable market for sports betting,” Hartman said.

The LGCC is scheduled to meet next on July 16. The Dept. of Revenue has not yet released its May revenue report.


Matt is a veteran writer with a specific focus on the emerging sports gambling market. During Matt's two decade career in journalism, he has written for the New York Times, Forbes, The Guardian, Reuters and among others. In his spare time, Matt is an avid reader, a weekend tennis player and a frequent embarrassment to the sport of running.

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