CO Law Mandates Sports Betting May 1. What Does That Mean?

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Colorado’s new sports betting law mandates sports betting by May 1, 2020. But what, exactly, does that mean?

The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (LGCC) has been hurtling toward that date, holding virtual meetings during the COVID-19 crisis and continuing to review and approve license applications in anticipation of being ready to have live sports betting on May 1. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a sports bet will be placed anywhere in the state on that day — especially in light of the current sports shutdown.

According to a spokesperson from the LGCC, the Commission interprets the law to mean that it should be ready — regulations set and licensees approved — for a May 1 launch. But nowhere in the law does it mandate that an operator must take a sports bet on May 1.

LGCC prepared to meet May 1 sports betting deadline

“From an administrative standpoint, that the May 1 date to allow legalized sports betting to take place in Colorado will be met given the current status and progress of adopting rules, approving licenses, and implementing procedures for sports betting in Colorado,” the LGCC told COBets last week.

The May 1 date is mentioned at least twice in the new law, HB 19-1327:

First in the “legislative declarations” section:

(d) IT IS APPROPRIATE, AND THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY INTENDS, THAT AFTER THE INCORPORATION OF SPORTS BETTING INTO THIS ARTICLE 30 ON MAY 1, 2020, NO FURTHER EXPANSION OF SPORTS BETTING NOR AUTHORIZATION OF ANY NEW OR EXPANDED CLASS OF LICENSEES BE MADE EXCEPT WITH THE APPROVAL OF COLORADO VOTERS THROUGH LEGISLATION OR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS THAT ARE SUBMITTED TO A STATEWIDE VOTE;

and in the final paragraph of the act before the signatures:

(b) If the voters at the November 2019 statewide election approve the ballot question described in subsection (2)(a) of this section, then sections 1 to 3, 6, 7, 13, and 14 of this act and sections 44-30-1501, 44-30-1502, and 44-30-1506 to 44-30-1514, Colorado Revised Statutes, enacted by section 12 of this act, take effect May 1, 2020.

Neither of those sections would suggest that operators must begin accepting sports bets on May 1. The interpretation is just that state regulators must be ready to allow operators to launch.

More licenses to be reviewed

DraftKings Sportsbook was the first to get temporary Internet Operator licenses in early March. The commission has approved licenses for seven retail locations, and could approve up to 33 for both retail and internet sports wagering.

The LGCC is set to meet later this week  in a “Special Sports Betting Licenses Action” meeting. No agenda is available yet. The Commission will also hold its regular monthly meeting on April 16. It’s possible the Commission will discuss and consider how to move forward in these unique times at both meetings, which will be via video conference.

“The broader question hinges on the current state of the unknown reality we all find ourselves in now,” a LGCC spokesperson said. “How long will closures and stay at home orders last? What other actions and measures might be put in place?”

Stay tuned.

 

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Jill Dorson

Jill has covered everything from steeplechase to the NFL and then some during a more than 30-year career in sports journalism. The highlight of her career was covering Oakland Raiders during the Charles Woodson/Jon Gruden era, including the infamous “Snow Bowl” and the Raiders’ 2003 trip to Super Bowl XXXVII. Her specialty these days is covering sports betting legislation across the country.

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