Legal online casinos in Colorado are on the table. Colorado’s Department of Revenue Executive Director Mark Ferrandino confirmed that conversations regarding the matter have started.
The Colorado State Capitol building, above. Colorado Department of Revenue Executive Director Mark Ferrandino says lawmakers could soon move to legalize online gaming in the state. (Image: 9News)
Ferrandino told an audience at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCGLS) in Denver that “talks are underway about legalizing online casino gaming in the state.”
Colorado could join the other states that are getting in on the online action as a way to claim its share of the dollars surrounding casino games on the internet. Just last month, Rhode Island became the seventh state in the US to offer iGaming. The first six states in the online casino market reported revenue of more than $500 million in May 2023.
While Colorado law doesn’t allow online casino gambling, it does allow regulated online sports betting. In the three years since online sports wagering officially began on May 1, 2020, Colorado reports nearly $409 million in net sports betting proceeds. Those figures could be fueling talks to expand the state’s online gaming market.
Talks have started, but the road to completion may follow a winding path. First, the Colorado State Legislature would need to pass online casino legislation, which would then need to be signed by the governor before going to the voters for approval. After that, retail casinos could apply for licenses and partner with online operators.
Colorado’s Fertile Gambling Grounds
Online sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and pari-mutuel wagering are all legal in Colorado. Colorado has 20 sportsbooks available, second to only New Jersey with 22.
Colorado offers one of the lowest sports betting taxes in the US at 10%. That number ranks far lower than larger gambling states like New York at 51%, Pennsylvania at 36%, and Illinois at 15%. Colorado’s tax applies to both mobile sportsbooks and retail operators.
It’s expensive to operate a sportsbook and some haven’t made it in Colorado, but talks of online gaming expansion have ignited interest and investment. Barstool Sportsbook’s parent company, PENN Entertainment, recently announced a sizeable upgrade. The upgrade went live in all 16 US jurisdictions where Barstool Sportsbook is live, including in Colorado.
“Migrating onto our proprietary technology platform and introducing a fully upgraded Barstool Sportsbook is a milestone achievement,” said Jay Snowden, CEO and President of PENN Entertainment.
Adding to the online environment, supporters of online gaming expansion point out there are more than 30 retail casinos in the Centennial State, so there could be plenty of licenses to go around and certainly plenty of interest in obtaining one.
Online Operators Gearing Up
Just the potential of online casinos has operators getting ready to launch. Entering the market first could mean a much larger share of profit.
PlayStar co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer, Adam Noble has previously commented on the importance of planning in advance.
PlayStar is a brand that’s committed to providing players in the US with a genuinely unique online casino experience – and by teaming up with GF Gaming in Colorado, we’re already looking ahead to how we can expand these plans into the next market when regulation allows,” Noble said.
Colorado’s sports betting numbers have supporters of the online gambling expansion making comparisons. It’s believed Colorado could be in the New Jersey or Michigan ballpark (about $156 million, each, in May) if and when online casinos do launch in the state.