Gaming Commission Approves Wave Of Sports Betting Licenses As May 1 Target Nears

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The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (LGCC) approved 18 sports betting licenses Thursday signaling its intent to launch legalized sports gambling this year despite the immense challenges presented by the spread of COVID-19.

Following Thursday’s licensing actions, the LGCC has issued nearly three dozen sports betting licenses since the process began in February. The new law sets a May 1 target for the statewide rollout of legalized sports betting, one that may be delayed due to the widespread concerns associated with the coronavirus. The LGCC plans to meet that target even if operators are not ready open their doors.

A host of prominent sportsbook operators highlighted by Roar Digital, LLC, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and U.K. based GVC Holdings, received license approval at Thursday’s meeting.

Numerous heavy hitters join the party

As of April 1, the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming received 33 Master Sports Betting license applications, 12 Sports Betting Operator licenses and 19 Sports Betting Internet Operator licenses, Division spokesperson Suzi Karrer told COBets. As a result, every retail casino throughout the state has applied for a master license enabling the facilities to eventually accept sports wagers inside their venues.

One of the most significant developments to arise out of Thursday’s special meeting came from the large number of sportsbooks that gained entry into the market either through operator or internet licensing actions. In total, six new sportsbooks officially expanded into Colorado following Thursday’s developments.

American Wagering Inc., a Las Vegas-based company, owned by William Hill U.S., had two temporary Sports Betting Operator licenses and a temporary Internet Sports Betting operator license approved by the LGCC. The Operator Licenses cover Eldorado Resorts’ Isle of Capri Casino Hotel and Lady Luck Casino, both located in Black Hawk. William Hill forged a massive partnership with Eldorado in September 2018, under which Eldorado gained a 20% stake in the sportsbook operator’s U.S. operations.

The LGCC also issued temporary Internet Sports Betting Operator licenses to Rush Street Interactive Colorado, LLC, Smarkets USA, Penn Sports Interactive, LLC and Circa Sports Colorado LLC at the meeting held via video conference. Circa Sports entered into a 15-year market access and revenue sharing agreement with Century Casinos, Inc. in February. Century Casinos, a worldwide casino entertainment company, operates the Century Casino & Hotels in Cripple Creek and Central City.

The operators were granted the licenses on a temporary basis, pending the final results of a background investigation, said Kristen Blessman, chair of the commission.

In terms of master licensing, the LGCC issued licenses to four casinos in Black Hawk: The Bull Durham Saloon & Casino, The Gilpin Hotel Casino, The Red Dolly Casino and The Lodge Casino at Black Hawk.  The Commission also approved master licenses to companies that operate the Century Casino Cripple Creek, Johnny Nolon’s Casino, the Colorado Grande Hotel and Casino, as well as Century Casino in Central City.

Other licensing action

The LGCC also granted Temporary Vendor Major licenses to Sportradar Solutions LLC and Penn Sports Interactive, as well as a First Vendor Major license to International Game Technology PLC (IGT). Sportradar, a global sports betting data provider, gained license approval in Colorado after recently filing for a supplier license in the District of Columbia.

Although the LGCC passed nine sports betting rules at a February meeting, the Commission amended three others, including a section on source data requirements. Under the amendment, the Commission removed Section 8.4, a provision that authorized the Division to disapprove the source of data used by an operator. Previously, the proposed rule enabled the Division to disallow a data source for any reason, including the methods used for data collection and the licensing status of the data provider.

The section is still under review by the LGCC and could be reinserted into the permanent rules, Karrer said.

The LGCC did not address the review process at Thursday’s meeting.

Sportradar maintains partnerships with a number of top professional sports leagues around the world including: the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and FIFA.

In addition, the LGCC approved First Vendor Minor licenses of 10 companies Thursday: PXP Financial Inc., Computacenter Fusionstorm Inc., Flexential Colorado Corp., Online Ventures Strategies, LLC, United Tote Company, Awesemo.com LLC, Intercheck Technologies, LLC, Geocomply Solutions Inc, Sightline Payments, LLC and Worldpay Gaming Solutions, LLC.

GeoComply, a Vancouver-based geolocation technology company, views Colorado as a critical piece of its sports betting solutions portfolio.

“We are pleased to be approved to service our clients and partners in such a sports-driven market as Colorado,” Lindsay Slader, VP of Regulatory Affairs at GeoComply wrote in a statement. “The GeoComply team is prepared and ready to support the rollout of online sports betting as quickly as the state is able to launch its live operations.”

No update on potential statewide launch

The Division continues to prepare for the possible rollout of legalized sports betting on May 1. Although the Division is racing to complete the requisite administrative work in time for the target, it doesn’t necessarily mean that various sportsbooks will begin accepting bets that day.

Dan Hartman, director of the department’s Gaming Enforcement Division, previously noted at an LGCC meeting March 19 that the launch could be delayed in light of the virus. Though Hartman did not discuss the ramifications of the coronavirus spread, he is pleased with the large volume of license applications that received approval at Thursday’s meeting.

“We are moving forward with the administrative part of sports betting and this is a big piece to getting that done as we work through this new world,” Hartman said during the meeting.

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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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