Colorado Ready For Takeoff After Emergency Licensing, Sports Betting Catalog Approvals

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Barring any unforeseen, last-second predicaments, sports betting operators in Colorado will enter the U.S. legal sports betting market Friday morning.

Hours before the state officially launches legal sports betting, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (LGCC) issued a plethora of new licenses at an emergency meeting April 30, held virtually due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The LGCC approved 31 sports betting-related licenses at Thursday’s meeting, including the Master Sports Betting Licenses of The Wild Card Saloon and Sasquatch Casino, both in Black Hawk.

Following the latest round of licensing action, all 33 licensed, non-tribal casinos in Colorado now have a master license to accept wagers on sports, Colorado Division of Gaming spokesperson Suzi Karrer told COBets.

Approval of sports betting catalog

When the LGCC previously met April 16, Commissioner Richard Nathan suggested the addition of an amendment that temporarily removed prop bets on NCAA sports from an expansive sports betting catalog on permitted bet types. Citing statutory guidelines that restrict Colorado sportsbooks from accepting prop wagers on individual collegiate athletes, Nathan advised the Commission to review the bet types before the catalog received final approval.

At the prior meeting, Nathan emphasized that certain props, such as the number of corner kicks taken in an NCAA Division I soccer match could be in violation of Colorado state law. The issue gained further relevance Wednesday morning when the NCAA Board of Governors announced it supported modified rules on athletes’ names, images and likeness that would enable individual athletes to receive compensation for various endorsements. While the rule changes will likely not take effect before the 2021-22 academic year, the new policy could enable an athlete such as Heisman Trophy frontrunner Trevor Lawrence to potentially sign an endorsement deal with a sports betting company.

On Thursday’s agenda, the Commission first approved a motion that modified language on how Colorado regulators define a “proposition bet.” A previous incarnation of props, according to the Colorado Division of Gaming’s Adopted Sports Betting Regulations, defined the wager as a bet type that regards “the occurrence or non-occurrence of a certain outcome during an event that does not directly reflect the event’s final outcome.” The motion, which was approved unanimously, added new language to Section 1.4 of the adopted regulations.

1.4 Definitions. (15) “Proposition (Prop) bet” means a bet specifically naming an individual participant, or if a team sport, a specific position on a 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.”

From there, the LGCC discussed an agenda item on the consideration and finalization of the sports betting catalog. The massive catalog contains more than a thousand available bets, including wagers on winter sports such as biathlon, snowboard slopestyle and ski superpipe, along with more obscure ones like pesapallo and bandy. While the Commission reinserted most of the props that were temporarily removed, the LGCC omitted one undisclosed bet type from the finalized catalog, according to Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman. The motion also carried by a unanimous vote.

Licensing action

Besides the approval of the aforementioned master licenses, the LGCC issued licenses to companies in four other classifications on Thursday. The vast majority of licensing action took place in the First Vendor Minor License classification, a category that pertains to media companies and others with an express interest in sports gambling coverage. Of the nearly two dozen companies that received licensure in the category, the group includes Pat McAfee Inc., owners of the eponymous Pat McAfee Show, featuring the two-time NFL Pro Bowl punter.

Knowledgeable football fans may also be familiar with The Woody Paige Sports Network, LLC, another company that received license approval on Thursday. Paige, a former columnist with the Denver Post, is also a panelist on ESPN talk show “Around The Horn” and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

While Paige predicted that the Broncos would select a receiver with their first pick in last week’s NFL Draft, he appeared thrilled that All-American wideout Jerry Jeudy fell to Denver at No. 15. Ahead of the Draft, several sportsbooks pegged the Raiders and Jets as the favorites to select the former Alabama receiver.

The LGCC also approved the vendor licenses of Better Collective USA, Inc., The Action Network, Inc., PayPal, Inc., US Integrity, LLC and the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association among others. COBets is one of several state-focused sports betting websites under the Better Collective coverage umbrella. In addition, the Commission issued a First Manufacturer/Distributor License to Sasquatch Casino and a Temporary Vendor Major License to Swish Analytics US Inc.

Other companies receiving First Vendor Minor License approval on Thursday:

  • Lineups.com, Inc.
  • Betsperts, Inc.
  • CB Sports, LLC
  • Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions Fl Inc.
  • Aristotle International Inc.
  • IDology, Inc.
  • Mazooma, Inc.
  • Jumio Corporation

Ready to roll

Following the developments from the emergency meeting, Colorado appears ready for operators to launch on Friday. Hartman noted that six sportsbook operators completed testing and are ready to go live on May 1. Every retail casino across the state remains closed under a new public health order issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, effective April 27. There are strong indications that the retail casinos will remain closed through the end of May.

Of the six operators, at least four sportsbooks intend on launching Colorado mobile sports betting apps Friday, COBets has confirmed. While the four operators, BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel plan to go live on the first day of legalized sports betting across the state, it is unclear when the other two will make their Colorado debut. The two others are Smarkets and Monarch Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk Colorado, which is launching an app called BetMonarch, the Division confirmed Thursday.

The hearing on Thursday concludes a series of meetings in recent weeks complicated by a pandemic that has led to nearly 15,000 confirmed cases statewide.

“It would have been a chore even without the pandemic,” Hartman said of the licensing process. “Everyone stepped up, I’m really proud of the staff and what we’ve done.”

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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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