The attorney general for the state of Colorado, in her recent comments about the possibility of legalizing sports gaming in the state, said if the state government refuses to apply legislation to do so, the state could move ahead with sports legislation without the approval of the legislative branch.
Gaming in Colorado
Currently, there are four casinos operating in Colorado, and they are all in towns outside of the main metropolitan areas. One of the casinos is a Native American casino, which Native Americans are allowed to have under federal law. Colorado also operates a lottery, both with in-state lotteries and scratch-off tickets, as well as multistate lotteries, such as Mega Millions and Powerball. The small amount of gaming in the state, nevertheless, earns the state millions of dollars in revenue each year.
Sports Gaming in Colorado
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has stated that while it would be best if both the legislature and the voters have a chance to weigh in on sports gaming, the state’s constitution does not forbid commercial sports betting. That means it is a question of policy rather than a legislative undertaking. This is especially true since the constitution only outlawed the lottery, and other forms of gaming in the state were legal.
Many people in the state were surprised by the ruling. Legal experts stated that the state’s legislature would have to approve a bill, and the public would have to vote on it. However, Coffman noted that the state’s constitution says that lotteries were outlawed because they were games of chance rather than games of skill. Casinos in Colorado operate under the notion that gamblers must be skilled in order to win, while lottery players just have to be lucky. In the opinion of the attorney general, sporting events fall under games of skill rather than games of chance.
The Reaction of Casinos
The four Colorado casinos were not pleased with the opinion of the attorney general since it is likely that they might not be the locations for sports betting operations. The casinos were under the impression that sports betting is not a game of skill, but of chance, which would make it a lottery, and heavily regulated (if not illegal) under Colorado law. In addition, the casinos noted that no one is currently discussing the similarities between horse racing and dog racing using pari-mutuel betting, which is legal in the state, and the problems with single-sports gaming on professional and college sports. The casinos argue that betting on horse racing takes specific knowledge because the players are betting against a pool of other gamblers. However, in single-sport betting, players do not bet against each other. Instead, they are betting against the house, much as a lottery operates.
Of course, some people have pointed out that the casinos would be the first organizations in line if sports gaming is made legal in the state. In addition, the casinos feel they would be in direct competition with the horse and dog tracks for the sports gaming dollar if sports gambling became legal. The tracks could argue they would be the best place to house sports wagers because they already take wagers on horse racing and dog racing. In addition, Colorado casinos and tracks have stated that in order to be competitive with other states, namely Nevada, they have no choice but to begin discussing the need for sports wagers in the state. Whatever Colorado decides to do, it will be on the bandwagon with several states that are not only discussing sports gaming but have already legalized it and are accepting wagers.
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