Legal Timeline for Colorado Online Gambling
The thriving casino industry in Central City, Cripple Creek and Black Hawk shows that Colorado gambling laws are progressive compared to many states. These casinos were made legal in 1991 – with betting limits increasing in 2009.
Other notable dates include the 2016 regulation of Daily Fantasy Sports contests. Bill H-1404 made these sites explicitly legal. This bought clarification, as the main DFS brands have been operating in Colorado for several years.
Sports betting online is the most recent addition to the CO statutes. Bill 1327 made this legal in 2019. The licensing process meant that the first mobile sportsbooks were available in 2020.
The legal gambling age in Colorado varies by the type of gambling. For casinos this is 21+, you can bet at 18+.
Online Sports Betting is Live in Colorado
Colorado’s casinos are famously quirky in their names and branding due to a concerted effort on the part of the state to maintain a historical flavor. Properties with names like Bullwhackers, Bronco Billy’s, and the Brass Ass abound. There’s even a Christmas-themed property.
However, online sports betting is best left to those with experience. So, many of Colorado’s casinos have partnered with well-known sportsbook operators for their online and retail sports betting operations.
The first sportsbooks to debut in the Centennial State were all top brand names in the sports betting world. They were:
- BetMGM – The product of a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings, BetMGM is already active in several other states.
- BetRivers – An online arm of East Coast gambling operator Rush Street Interactive, which owns and operates numerous retail and online properties in the northeast.
- DraftKings – Already active as a daily fantasy sports provider in Colorado, DraftKings has risen in the past few years as one of the most innovative and important sportsbook providers in the country.
- FanDuel – The DFS pioneer has served daily fantasy sports fans in Colorado for many years, but thanks to successful launches in numerous states, FanDuel has become one of the biggest players in the USA for sports betting.
Other major operators have also indicated that they are planning to go live in Colorado soon. So, do not be surprised if you see one of the following brands pop up:
- 888 Sports
- Fox Bet
- William Hill
Colorado Online Horse Betting
You can bet on horse races online legally in Colorado. A carve-out in the (Federal) UIGEA of 2006 makes it possible to bet on horses and / or greyhounds in any state where this is possible in person. Simulcast betting is legal in the Centennial state – making it possible to access the pari-mutuel pools online too.
The sites that handle horse racing bets are different to those offering full sports betting. Bet American is the only exception – this brand has expanded to offer both types of betting.
When you bet on horses online, you are entering the same pools as those at the tracks or betting from OTB offices. You can bet on individual horses (win, place, show), or on multiple selections to finish in the correct order (exacta, trifecta, superfecta).
It is also possible to ‘box’ bets, so that your selections can finish in any order. Other bets include pick 5 / 6, where you are betting on multiple races at a single meeting.
Betting brands include Bet America, TVG (which is tied to the TV channel of the same name) and TwinSpires. All sites offer welcome bonuses and promotions which include odds boosts and no-lose bets. Taking advantage of all 3 will help get your horse racing betting bankroll off to a flying start.
Other benefits of betting online include live feeds of the races, and detailed form / past performance data to help you make the best picks.
Daily Fantasy Sports Contests Online in Colorado
DFS contests first came to Colorado in 2009. These are skill-based games, where you pick line-ups of players to compete with others. These were formally made legal in CO in 2016. Act 1404 regulated the DFS sites – requiring licensing for bigger sites and ensuring player protections were in place. This move was welcomed by the major operators.
Two big names dominate when it comes to Daily Fantasy Sports. These are DraftKings and FanDuel. Both brands are also entering the online sports betting market in Colorado.
You can pick line-ups in many major sports. This includes eSports and MMA – as well as the big pro leagues and soccer. Your line-ups need to be within a specified salary cap. You then choose whether to enter your rosters into cash games (small contests against 1 or more opponent), or tournaments. There are many variations of these games, including opportunities to win your way through a series of smaller buy-in tournaments (called steps) which can win you entry into a bigger buy-in contest.
It is also possible to create your own contests or leagues.
Online Casino Gambling via Social Casinos
You can legally gamble at social casinos online from Colorado under laws designed for sweepstakes contests. Brands including ChumbaCasino and LuckyLand Slots have been live country-wide since 2016. They offer slots, keno and limited casino table games – treating them as sweepstakes contests.
To stay legal, social casinos can’t directly charge players for chips.
What they do instead is sell you play-money only chips (known as gold coins) and then give you ‘Sweeps Coins’ for free. You can play with either of the two currencies. Gold coins are for entertainment and ‘bragging rights’ only. Sweeps coins can be exchanged for dollars and withdrawn if you win.
You’ll find the slots are every bit as high quality as those you will find in the online casinos in states which have regulated this activity (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia).
To stay legal, the social casinos need to provide a way to enter their sweepstakes contests for free. You can get free sweeps cash at Chumba Casino simply for registering. You can also send a letter to their HQ, getting a small amount of sweeps cash this way. Bonuses and promotions, including some that are linked to social media are alternative ways of getting sweeps cash for free.
Online Poker in Colorado
Global Poker is available nationwide as well as in Colorado. They have quietly grown into one of the bigger online poker sites – offering both cash games and tournaments to poker fans.
This site uses the same social gambling approach as the casinos covered in the section above. You’ll play for sweeps coins – which Global Poker can’t sell you directly. You buy play-money chips (gold coins) and are given sweeps cash for ‘free’.
All the action takes place in your web browser, with no software or app download needed. You’ll find the majority of the games feature No-Limit Texas Hold’em. Some Pot Limit Omaha is also on offer.
Online Lottery Games in Colorado
The first lottery draw took place in Colorado back in 1983. Since then the lottery has expanded. These days you will find in-state draws alongside the huge multi-state games like Powerball, Mega Millions and Lucky for Life. There are also instant games including scratch cards and keno type games.
While you can’t buy lottery tickets online, there is a detailed website and apps available for players. Bonus draw games are available for scratch cards (even if you lost the original game). You can enter a unique 22-digit number to see if you win a prize.
There is a lot more online than just the results. The Colorado lottery website tracks the luckiest stores and luckiest numbers. You can also find out about the winners and which good causes the lottery revenues support.
MyLottery is an optional account, which gives you access to a dashboard showing all your bonus draws and results. This is available via the apps or through the main website.
Funding Your Online Gambling Account
You’ll need to make a deposit to enjoy the many online gambling options in Colorado. This is safe, as long as you stick to the legitimate sites and avoid offshore / grey-market operators.
The exact mix of payment options on offer vary across the different gambling verticals. DFS sites and social casinos / poker rooms have a limited number of options compared to the new regulated sportsbooks. Credit and debit cards are welcomed at all types of gambling site operating in Colorado.
Here are the main gambling site deposit options, along with an explanation for each one:
- Bank Cards: Both debit and credit cards can be used. Visa and MasterCard are welcomed by almost all gambling sites. Amex and Discover branded cards are less frequently allowed. Making a payment with your card follows the same process as making an online purchase.
- Branded Debit Cards: FanDuel and other gambling sites have introduced their own branded debit cards in other states – and are expected to do the same in Colorado. These are perfect for bettors that want the ease of use of a card, though prefer not to use their own cards for gambling.
- PayPal: This well-known electronic wallet is used by DFS sites as well as the sportsbooks. You can use it for both deposits and withdrawals. The advantage is security, with the separate account effectively keeping your bank and the gambling sites separated. Other brands which are similar include Neteller and Skrill.
- eChecks: You can transfer directly from your bank account to a gambling site in several ways. The easiest and (once verified) the fastest is called eChecks or ACH transfers. This can be used for withdrawals too.
- Bill Pay: Paying into a sportsbook the same way you might pay a utility bill will online work at the biggest banks.
- Bank Wires / Money Orders: These traditional banking methods are slower, though can be used for funding your gambling accounts.
- Cash at Cage: For online sportsbooks, each mobile book will have a license holding brick and mortar casino. You can take cash to the cage, funding your account in person.
- Cash at 7-Eleven: If you are not close to Cripple Creek, Central City or Black Hawk, then taking cash to your local convenience store could be faster. Note than fees will be charged.
When you withdraw from any gambling site the default payment option will be to return the funds the same way you deposited them. When this is not possible, an alternative can be used. Many gambling sites can send paper checks to you.
Boosting Your Online Gambling Account
You can get your bankroll off to the best possible start with welcome bonuses that almost all the gambling sites offer. These will vary depending on whether you choose sports, casino or horse racing bets. Here are the main types of bonus on offer to Colorado residents:
- Colorado Sportsbooks: High competition between the betting brands gives you a lot of bonuses to choose from. Look out for no-deposit free bets. These allow you to check out the different betting apps with zero risk. Matched welcome bonuses (usually at 100% of your deposit amount) and no-lose first bets are common incentives.
- DFS Sites: There is little competition with Daily Fantasy Sports – as the market is dominated by FanDuel and DraftKings. You’ll need to deposit to take advantage of their welcome offers, which are $5 / $25 in free bets. You can also take advantage of entry into the easy ‘beginner’ games.
- Horse Racing Sites: Matched bonuses and no-lose wagers also feature at the online pari-mutuel gambling sites. Your deposit will be matched at 100%, with the bonus coming in the form of free bets.
- Social Casinos: Bonuses are smaller at ChumbaCasino, LuckyLand Slots and Global Poker. You’ll get double the amount of sweeps coins to normal the first time you deposit. At $5 max, this is not a ‘big money’ bonus. Chumba Casino offer 2 free sweeps coins simply for registering. At Global Poker, you’ll get to enter a freeroll for depositors too.
Ongoing Rewards at Colorado Gambling Sites
Welcome bonuses will be gone very fast – many of them only apply to your first bets or have other short-lived incentives.
Savvy gamblers in Colorado understand that it is the ongoing rewards that make the biggest difference to your bankroll over the long run.
Things to look out for include loyalty programs, odds boosts, free to enter contests (slot tournaments, DFS games), freeroll tournaments (poker) and insurance against losing parlays by a single leg.
It can be worth checking the details of the loyalty schemes on offer. Some are flat rate. These reward you with a fixed amount based on the amount you bet. Others are tiered. These schemed increase rewards based on your betting over time. You can unlock extra bonuses and rewards. Some betting sites also link their online loyalty rewards to the casino partner’s comp schemes.
For those that are high rollers, it can also be worth comparing the different gambling sites for VIP rewards.
Are Colorado Online Gambling Sites Safe?
Regulated, licensed gambling sites have a huge advantage in any state – safety. When you play at a licensed site in Colorado, you will know that they met the requirements of the Limited Gaming Control Commission. Those requirements cover the separate handling of player funds, tools for players that might develop gambling problems and fair rules for bonuses and promotions.
Payments will use SSL – making them completely safe. You can even choose a 3rd party payment system like PayPal or pre-funded debit cards, this will keep your own bank account separate from the gambling sites.
The biggest difference in terms of safety comes from having a governing / licensing body to complain to if you feel you have been mistreated. Offshore sportsbooks, which are supposedly ‘licensed’ on Caribbean islands, have no governing body overseeing them that is capable (or willing) to listen to player complaints.
You can bet, enjoy casino and poker games or enter DFS contests legally and safely from Colorado these days – there is simply no need to take the risk of using offshore online gambling sites.
Other states with legal gambling
Colorado: Helping Problem Gamblers
With so many legal gambling options available, it is important to assist people who develop gambling problems. For retail casinos in the Centennial state, self-exclusion can be arranged – effectively a voluntary way of stopping individuals from entering any casino in the state.
This also exists online – as part of a suite of tools designed to help people manage their gambling. They include limits on deposits, bet sizes or the total amount bet in certain time periods. Shorter time-out periods can be arranged, as well as longer (or even permanent) self-exclusion.
If you are unsure about your own gambling or that of a friend or loved one, then a self-assessment questionnaire can help. This is a series of questions designed to understand how an individual approaches gambling. Links to help organizations, including the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado will also be provided.
The Future of Online Gambling in Colorado
Colorado has allowed parimutuel betting on horse races since the 1950s, a state lottery since 1983, and legal casino gambling in the remote mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek since 1991.
However, until Colorado voters passed Proposition DD in November 2019, approving the launch of retail and online sports betting throughout the state, Colorado online gambling was limited to online horse betting at major sites like TVG and BetAmerica.
There won’t be any online casinos or poker sites in Colorado just yet, but retail and online sports betting have been approved and could begin as early as May 1, 2020.
The Colorado sports betting bill, H 1327, jumped over its final hurdle in the legislature on May 3, 2019 and was soon signed by Gov. Jared Polis. Colorado voters then made legal sports betting a reality passing the Proposition DD referendum required to make the bill law on Nov. 5, 2019.
Now, it’s up to the state to put together regulations to govern sports betting in the state and issue the first licenses. It hopes to have that done by May 1, 2020, allowing the first retail and online sportsbooks to launch in Colorado.
After that, residents and visitors to Colorado will be able to place in-person sports bets at licensed sportsbooks inside the casinos in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek.
State-wide online sports betting will also be available through any of those brick-and-mortar locations that also obtain an internet sports betting license and either create their own sports betting apps and websites or find an online partner.
Lots of Options for Online Gambling in Colorado
Colorado residents have many options to gamble online. The most recent addition of sports betting joins horse racing betting, DFS, social casinos and poker – plus a lottery website.
Regulation ensures that these gambling options are safe, removing the risk and uncertainty. You can use regular deposit options including credit cards and bank transfers – and will find tools in place to protect individuals with problem gambling behaviors.
Many of the biggest and best sports betting brands are ready to enter Colorado. These include Pointsbet and Bet America, who have already announced partnerships with local casinos. Licenses for retail and online sportsbooks are available to all the live casinos. This will ensure that all the big brands that want to enter the Centennial state will have a choice of partner.
This level of competition between the online sportsbooks will ensure that you have a lot of bonuses, promotions and free bet offers to choose from.