Since the Supreme Court’s decision to allow legal sports betting, Colorado is just one of many states where it will be allowed, but no one is sure when. Race tracks, fantasy sports companies, casinos and even state lawmakers are all talking about the multi-billion dollar industry and how it can benefit each stakeholder. The process, however, isn’t a quick one, at least not in Colorado. In fact, sports bettors in Colorado might have to wait until 2020 before the state legalizes sports betting.
The fact that legal sports betting won’t be a huge profit-maker will likely slow Colorado’s race to get laws set, because there’s not a huge incentive to get it done quick. Instead, many of those knowledgeable of the process are opining that the state will take its time to make sure the system will work before pushing it through legislature. This gives lawmakers the time to see what other states are doing, and improve on their mistakes, unlike with what happened with legalized marijuana. The soonest Colorado residents and visitors might see legal gambling is January 1, 2020.
Even casino operators in Colorado agree. The Monarch’s David Farahi isn’t in a rush to implement legal sports betting. In an article by CPR.org, Faraho made the following comments:
“Colorado not being first is probably advantageous for Colorado”
and pointed to Pennsylvania’s recently passed legislation, which appears to be a disaster. He has the opinion that not many operators will choose to work with Pennsylvania.
The Supreme Court decided on May 14, 2018 to permit states to allow sports betting, turning over a long-time ban. This will potentially create a financial boon for individual states and the gambling industry overall. The federal law had barred betting on baseball, basketball, football, and other sports; now, states that want to allow legal sports betting will have to pass laws that will allow sports books to open. This might all sound great, but the truth of the matter is that profit margins are slim in sports gambling; it is typically less than five to six percent.
The ruling could be construed as being done to legalize what many people have already been doing for years. According to the American Gambling Association, Americans illegally wager around $150 billion on sports every year. The Supreme Court decision struck down the law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which had prohibited state-authorized sports betting since 1992. In writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said that the choice to legalize sports gambling isn’t the court’s job, but to determine if the law that Congress made in 1992 is consistent with the Constitution. The Supreme Court determined that PASPA is not.
As a result of the law being overturned, the stock prices for equipment makers and casino operators have surged. It’s possible that within the next five years, up to 32 states will probably offer legal sports betting. As we’ve seen already, some states are already up and running (Delaware and New Jersey) while a few others are about to roll out their platforms (West Virginia).
As for dissenters, they include all the four major professional sports leagues in the United States as well as the NCAA. The NBA and MLB both have issued statements saying their priority will remain the integrity of their games. The NHL, NFL, and NCAA have all said they were reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision and considering how it will impact their respective sports.
Let’s not forget that Colorado has a few major professional sports teams (Rockies, Avalanche, and Broncos) and that these teams are working with their respective leagues to ensure that Colorado lawmakers include some sort of integrity fee.
Some groups are concerned that without the proper safeguards put into place, legalized sports betting could lead to more gambling addictions. The National Council on Problem Gambling, for example, said that any sports league or government body that receives a portion of profits from sports betting revenue should put it towards programs to treat gambling problems.
You have to give the state’s leaders credit for taking their time and trying to learn from other states. For example, Delaware and New Jersey are setting great templates in regards to success, while Pennsylvania is setting the opposite example with their delusional sports betting laws. Even states like California and New York can teach Colorado all about the divisiveness and potential hiccups along the way. With that said, 2020 is a long way and it really prevents Colorado from capitalizing on this newfound gold rush of sorts. I applaud a sensible approach, but I feel that the state is being too cautious and needs to pick up the pace.
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