Colorado Agency To Further Examine Fixed-Odds Horse Racing At November Stakeholder Meetings

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Months after Colorado gaming leaders held an exploratory meeting on the merits of fixed odds in horse racing, a state agency indicated Thursday that it will host up to three additional stakeholder meetings on the topic in the coming weeks.

The stakeholder meetings will be hosted by the Colorado Department of Revenue in coordination with the state’s division of gaming and division of racing, said Cory Amend, who serves as senior enforcement director for the department. In May, more than a dozen sports betting and horse racing executives joined regulators on a fixed-odds webinar hosted by the Colorado Division of Gaming. The stakeholder meeting featured several heated exchanges between fixed-odds proponents and the thoroughbred industry on how to equitably share an increased revenue stream if Colorado approves fixed-odds wagering across the state.

The first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 3, days before the 2021 Breeders Cup World Championships, being held in Del Mar, Calif. on Nov. 5 and 6. Two subsequent meetings are scheduled for Nov. 10 and 17, Amend said. There is a possibility that the department could waive the third meeting if enough progress is made over the first two, he indicated.

Amend made the comments Thursday at the Colorado Limited Gaming Commission’s (LGCC) monthly meeting.

Increasing the pie

Fixed-odds betting, a concept popular in Australia, differs from parimutuel wagering, the predominant form of horse racing wagering in the U.S.

On Monday, the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN) posted updated futures odds from a foreign bookmaker on all 14 championship races at the upcoming Breeders Cup. The weekend culminates with the $6 million Breeders Cup Classic, one of the richest thoroughbred races in the world. Knicks Go, the winner of the prestigious Grade I Whitney Stakes, has been installed as the 3-1 favorite ahead of Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality (+350) and Belmont runner-up Hot Rod Charlie (7-1). Medina Spirit, the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, is the fourth choice at +750.

Through fixed-odds wagering, a bettor can lock in odds on a top contender, such as Hot Rod Charlie at 7-1. A sharp bettor who is wagering thousands of dollars on the Belmont runner-up may be eager to lock in the price weeks before the race. Under the parimutuel system, the horseplayer runs the risk that the odds may fall to 5-1 or lower if the public bets heavily on Hot Rod Charlie in the minutes leading up to post time, and the early bettor would end up with that price.

A bevy of industry heavy hitters took part in May’s meeting, including representatives from BetMakers Technology Group Limited, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Churchill Downs. Sportsbook operators contend that fixed odds will bolster revenues for thoroughbred racetracks through the cross-pollination of players from sports betting. Parimutuel tracks, however, are worried that the multi-billion-dollar sportsbook corporations could cannibalize the horse racing industry’s market share.

BetMakers, an Australia-based company, has secured a 10-year deal to manage a fixed-odds platform at several New Jersey racetracks. Nearly a dozen U.S. tracks have agreed to offer fixed-odds wagering in some form, BetMakers Head of International Operations Dallas Baker told Horse Racing Nation earlier this month. Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin is confident that the track will offer fixed-odds betting on Opening Day next May.

The introduction of fixed odds in Colorado could provide a boon to Colorado’s lone racetrack. In August, Bally’s Corporation rebranded a longtime track in Aurora by changing the track’s name to Bally’s Arapahoe Park. Bally’s toasted the rebranding effort by replacing the track’s exterior entrance sign and introducing a new Bally Bet sports betting app to Colorado customers.

Licensing action

The LGCC approved two sports betting-related licenses and three master gaming license renewals at Thursday’s meeting. In the master license category, the LGCC approved license renewals for The Famous Bonanza Casino Corporation, Easy Street Casino, and Red Dolly Casino Inc. Betway Sportsbook currently operates an online sports betting platform for The Famous Bonanza Casino in Central City. Elite Sportsbook, meanwhile, operates retail and online sports betting platforms for Red Dolly Casino in Black Hawk.

Colorado regulators also issued sports betting licenses in the First Vendor Minor License category to Sharp EV Inc. and AdGate Media LLC. Launched in August by the founders of Win Daily and DFS Army, Sharp bills itself as an all-in-one app with sports betting content, bet tracking, and odds comparisons built into its platform.

The LGCC is scheduled to meet next on Nov. 18.

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 CBSSports.com 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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