Sharpton Calls For Pause To Mobile Sports Betting Progress In Colorado

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With less than six weeks before a mandated May 1 launch for sports betting in Colorado, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton on Monday called upon the governor, the speaker of the house, and the state gaming commission to hit pause on its upcoming mobile sports betting industry.

Sharpton cited economic fallout from the coronavirus in his press release.

Sharpton’s request comes during a week when Twin River World Holding will have its three Black Hawk-based casinos — Mardi Gras, Golden Gulch, and Golden Gate — reviewed for licenses by Colorado’s Limited Gaming Control Commission (LGCC) on Thursday. Twin River had already reached agreements with online titans FanDuel and DraftKings to operate two of three online “skins,” and DraftKings was previously approved as an Internet Operator at a specially scheduled session earlier this month as the LGCC works through the 60 sports betting applications.

The civil rights activist leveled direct criticisms at Twin River owner Soohyung Kim, a New York-based hedge fund manager who finalized a deal to purchase Mardi Gras, Golden Gulch, and Golden Gate in January for $51 million. Sharpton is from New York.

Sharpton said, “Out-of-state hedge funds with long records of mass firings and shady dealings have come into the state to capitalize on mobile sports betting and based on their track record—middle class workers and minorities will be the first to be negatively impacted,” before specifically naming Kim in the next paragraph of his letter.

“Service industry workers, many of whom are low-income and from communities of color, are among the most vulnerable in this global pandemic,” said the presser. “They are more likely to suffer financially from unexpected scheduling changes or sick days than those in other professions. [Sharpton] argues that now, more than ever, we must be thinking about inequality.”

Proposition DD narrowly passed in November to make sports betting legal in the Centennial State. Ten casinos have been granted sports betting licenses and 13 overall have been granted for physical and online sportsbooks in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. The LGCC is expected to grant as many as 33 sports betting licenses for casinos in those three cities — all designated to host gambling when it was legalized in 1991.

Sharpton takes aim at Kim’s hedge fund and Twin River

In his letter, Sharpton criticized Kim’s previous dealings while operating as the hedge fund manager of Standard General, claiming the 44-year-old “has a long track record of investing in deals that have caused mass layoffs for workers — especially workers of color. Whether it’s the 6,000 people who lost their jobs at Radioshack or the 2,400 people who were fired at American Apparel by Kim’s mismanagement and disregard for working class people, Standard General does not seem like the type of company Colorado should automatically entrust with mobile sports gambling.”

The long-time civil rights activist did not limit his criticisms to Kim’s hedge fund, also claiming Twin River slashed healthcare benefits for workers, “which tripled out-of-pocket costs for certain employees, just weeks after Massachusetts cleared the way in 2017 for the company to open a new casino in Tiverton.”

Sharpton also claimed Kim “already over-extended Twin River in his pursuit of potential mobile betting licenses,” and warned that if Twin River “fails to make a profit, you can be sure that it will be the workers of the Colorado casinos that suffer.”

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Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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