The Current State of Gambling in Colorado

The Centennial State opened its doors to online sports wagering during 2020 and has since seen major success. With swathes of users signing up at Colorado’s best online sports betting sites, bettors have thoroughly enjoyed their first couple of years indulging in online gambling.

The next step is, surely, to legalize some form of online casino gambling. At the moment, online casino gaming is illegal in the state of Colorado. The only way for people to enjoy poker, blackjack, roulette, and other top casino games is by visiting a retail venue - of which there are many.

Today, we’re going to go through every little detail with regards to all kinds of online gambling in Colorado. By the end, hopefully, you’ll have a solid understanding of what’s available and how to utilize each of the gambling platforms and facilities in CO.

Sports wagering was made legal following a proposition put forward by Governor Jared Polis in November 2019. The law named HB 1327 effectively legalized online sports gambling across the entire state. By May 2020, Colorado saw a full rollout of sports betting sites. Unlike some other states in the US, sportsbooks in CO don’t need to be linked with retail casinos. As a result, Colorado has now been left without any in-person sportsbooks and a handful of online sports betting sites.

The attitude towards playing online casino games in CO is very different from that of playing in-person casino games. Currently, online casino sites are strictly barred from setting up platforms within the state, and we haven’t heard much from lawmakers in terms of legalizing it. Around half a dozen casinos are scattered around CO - some of which are tribally owned - and bettors are free to check those out if they’d like.

What Other Forms of Gambling Are There in Colorado?

Wagering on the outcome of horse races is allowed and can even be done online. This can be done via a couple of providers, notably TwinSpires, through Advanced Deposit Wagering. On-track betting is also permitted for everyone aged 18 and above. Moreover, all bettors are required to be physically within the states’ lines while placing a bet on horse racing.

While there are clear rules on horse betting and sports gambling, things become complex when looking towards poker. If you take a look at the language used in Colorado’s legislature, you’ll likely come to the conclusion that online poker is banned despite not being explicitly noted in the writing. The only way to play online poker in Colorado is by visiting an offshore site, which we don’t recommend for a variety of reasons. Land-based casino poker is permitted by law in CO, though.

Unlike online poker, state lotteries are legal in Colorado. Revenue gathered from the state lottery is put towards education and outdoor recreation, as well as a conservation trust. Regarding lotteries, the only way for a player to break the law in CO would be to buy a lottery ticket while either based in another state or purchase a ticket to enter a different states’ lottery.

Other forms of gambling, namely blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps, keno, and others are all available within the confines of a legal, licensed land-based Colorado casino. These games are illegal online, and unless players sign up with illegal websites there is no way to participate in online casino games. This may change in the future, of course.

A Close Look At Colorado’s Gambling Laws

In this section, we’re going to go through each relevant law pertaining to online gambling in Colorado. From the regulatory body that oversees all gambling in the state to detailing why offshore sites are less secure compared to their regulated counterparts, no stone will be left unturned. First up, let’s jump into the basics.

What are the Gambling Laws in Colorado?

Gambling laws are constantly being updated, refreshed, and reviewed by professional lawmakers in Colorado. CRS 18-10-103 prohibits all forms of gambling in the state, with some exceptions. You may have noticed which types of gambling are exempt from this law already, but we’ll outline them below just in case of any doubt. Under this law, all forms of gambling are illegal in Colorado except:

  • Sports betting
  • Social gambling
  • Gambling within a licensed casino
  • The State lottery
  • Legal, organized horse racing
  • Licensed charitable events

These laws have been carefully edited over the years to remain consistent with the ever-changing landscape of online and social betting. In 2012, pushes for online casino gaming and online poker to be legalized were being made. However, all efforts were in vain as any potential bill fell apart not long after. There hasn’t been much determination to find a legal pathway for online casinos ever since.

As mentioned, sports betting came to fruition following a November 2019 vote put forward by the Governor. By mid-2020, online sportsbooks were up and running and had already onboarded plentiful customers. When talking about the state lottery, we’re looking back almost forty years with the initial lottery held in April 1983.

Colorado’s Regulatory Body For Gambling

The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission is a regulatory body appointed by the Governor of the state to oversee all actions taken by casinos and online sportsbooks, as well as other betting entities, in CO.

Made up of just five members, the commission seeks to create a safer, more accessible, and better gambling environment. To do so, the regulators are given the responsibility of developing and writing up all rules relating to retail and online betting.

On top of this requirement, the commission is tasked with setting the tax rate for bettors’ and operators’ income. To prevent bias from taking hold, the law ensures that each of the five commission members must be from separate professional and geographical backgrounds.

Additionally, no more than three members may be from the same political party. The regulatory body must have members that are:

  • A registered voter
  • A law enforcement official
  • An attorney with experience working in regulatory law
  • A corporate manager boasting five years experience in business
  • A certified public accountant knowledgeable in corporate finance

Meetings are held at least once per month as according to Colorado’s law, where members of the commission get together to discuss the latest occurrences in the states’ gambling scene.

Should they feel that a particular casino is serving its customers in an unfair manner, they have the right to elevate the situation and ensure that the correct procedures are carried out. As always, the gambling commission is present in Colorado to enhance players’ experiences, not hinder them.

Is It Safe To Play At Offshore Gambling Sites?

As it’s impossible to guarantee your safety when playing at an offshore casino site - or any offshore site for that matter - we can’t recommend doing so. Offshore sites are not held to the same standards as US-regulated platforms which means they are more likely to treat users with less respect. This can result in lost funds, accounts being closed suddenly, and a lack of customer support.

The reasoning behind this misbehavior among offshore sites is simple: they’re not regulated by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission or any US regulatory body for that matter. Rather, they’re operating for the sole purpose of taking advantage of what they brand a “legal grey area”. However, there’s nothing about it that’s grey, in reality.

It’s better to stick with domestic, legal, regulated sites based in Colorado. These websites are pushed to serve customers to the best of their ability and if they fail to meet the high standards set by commissioners, they risk losing their license. Offshore sites don’t face the same harsh consequences, and therefore they don’t feel the need to invest in users’ safety and security.

Keep in mind that while it’s unlikely you’ll be held accountable for playing at an offshore casino site or sports betting service, you’re running the risk of being treated unfairly and carelessly. When playing at CO websites, there’s a 100% guarantee that the site you’re using is safe and licensed. That’s simply not possible for offshore platforms. The risk is not worth any potential reward.

Popular Gambling Categories Available in Colorado

The types of gambling in Colorado are ever-changing as new laws, further amendments, and more operators make their way into the state.

Despite the majority of online betting services being currently unavailable due to laws written up making them illegal, there are still legal ways to enjoy some of the most popular games in the US from CO.

Below, we’ve lined up each of the best gambling genres and detailed how they can be played from the Centennial State.

Sports Betting

Recently legalized by a vote held in 2019, sports betting in Colorado grows bigger by the day. Each weekend bettors head to their favorite online sportsbook to wager on the most-watched sporting events as well as some niche sports, which is something that simply wasn’t possible a few years ago.

Although we’re yet to see the initial opening of a retail sports betting venue, there are plenty of sportsbooks found across the internet via apps and browsers. These include William Hill, DraftKings, BetMGM, SportsBetting, and some others. Each of these platforms has been granted a license by the relevant licensing body, meaning players can safely enjoy everything these services can offer.

In terms of what’s illegal in CO when it comes to sports betting, there are rules against wagering on collegiate and high-school events. Players must also be at least 21 years old if they wish to participate in sports betting of any kind. On top of that, bets on video game events are strictly prohibited.

DraftKings Sportsbook

Packed with innovative and personalized features for newly registered and existing customers, DraftKings has quickly risen to the top of the charts in terms of dominance across the sports betting scene in CO. The site caters to each players’ specific needs by accumulating information from past betting choices and uses those details to create more personable services.

William Hill Sportsbook

After making a name for itself across the pond in the UK, William Hill has decided to jump ship and try its hand at breaking into the US market. To virtually nobody’s surprise, the sportsbook has been a real success in Colorado, garnering plaudits all over the state and attracting a large number of the states’ player base. With loads of sports betting options, such as soccer, MMA, NHL, NFL, and much more, we expect further improvements in the coming years.

BetMGM Sportsbook

Backed by MGM Resorts, BetMGM has onboarded plenty of customers since the legalization of online sports betting in 2019. By offering enhanced features like the cash out button, in-play betting, and personalized betting options that allow you to edit bets, we fully expect the site to take things further in the near future.

SportsBetting Sportsbook

Having set up shop in September 2020, SportsBetting.com has struggled to compete with the likes of William Hill and BetMGM. Despite its simple name, SportsBetting is an interesting platform with thousands of events available to be bet on each month of the year. Linked with Johnny Nolon’s Casino in Cripple Cheek, the future of this site will be fascinating to remain up-to-date with.

FanDuel Sportsbook

After beginning its foray into the sports betting industry as more of a Daily Fantasy Sports operator, the guys working at FanDuel quickly realized that they could become a real force as a regular online sportsbook. Today, the platform boasts a downloadable mobile app available on both iOS and Android devices, allowing players the freedom to bet on the go, whenever they please.

Betfred Sportsbook

By putting pen to paper on a deal with Saragota Casino, Betfred started online sports betting operations in September 2020. Similar to FanDuel, Betfred offers an app for iOS and Android devices. The app works in much the same way as the browser version of the site with odds that are constantly updated throughout the course of events.

PointsBet Sportsbook

One of the few Australian-based sportsbooks that have made the move to America, PointsBet has seen rave reviews across the internet. Thanks in no small part to the so-called “Karma Kommittee”, PointsBet users can win, or have funds returned, on bets that unexpectedly went the other way the previous day. It’s a bit like cashback but better.

BetRivers Sportsbook

Partnered with Triple Crown Casino, BetRivers is a hugely popular online sportsbook in Colorado. All players are required to be placed within the states’ borders to use the site and/or app, which can be confirmed by using geo-location technology. While iOS users are able to get the application from the App Store, Android users will need to visit the BetRivers website and follow their instructions if they’re interested in purchasing the BetRivers app.

FoxBet Sportsbook

Most people may know Fox for their TV coverage, however, that’s not the only operation they undertake. FoxBet serves up a multitude of odds across a whole host of thrilling sports action, casting well-known figures in their advertisements for offers and new additions to the platform. While Fox as a company may cause controversy, there’s no doubt that FoxBet is a fantastic wing of the business.

Elite Sportsbook

By opening its second branch in Colorado in 2020, the Elite Sportsbook website ensured that its venture into the US sports betting market was real. The online betting platform was one of the first to take on customers following the legalization of sports wagering within CO, although it has somewhat struggled to gain much momentum since its inception. Nevertheless, we look forward to hearing more from this youthful site.

BetWildwood Sportsbook

By restricting access to members of the Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek, BetWildwood’s online sportsbook will find it a little difficult to truly get its feet off the ground. There’s not much to say about the site as it’s still relatively new to Colorado’s sports betting scene, but with a terrific welcome offer and some fantastic odds on a range of sports events, there’s a lot more to come from BetWildwood.

PlayUp Sportsbook

Another sportsbook that’s native to Australia, PlayUp has recently set down roots in the US and notably, Colorado. The site has a cash-out feature for players that want to receive winnings a little earlier than expected, in-play odds, enhanced odds, and customizable prop bets. Also offering a loyalty program to existing customers, PlayUp is definitely one to look out for in CO.

Online Casino

Unfortunately, online casino gaming is against the law in Colorado for the time being. In spite of heavy action towards legalizing online casinos back in 2012 and 2013, we haven’t seen much movement since.

It’s uncertain why this is the case, but there’s certainly a demand for casino gambling in CO. We expect more of a push from lawmakers over the course of the next decade.

At the time of writing, online casinos are not allowed to operate in Colorado. Currently, the sole form of online gambling that is permitted to take place is sports betting, and you can find plenty of sites offering sports odds in the section above.

There is one option for poker players based in CO: Global Poker. This is a sweepstakes-focused model, where players win Sweeps Coins that can be exchanged into real-money prizes. As you can tell, it’s a workaround for the regulations in Colorado, and there’s a possibility we may see further sites follow suit in the future.

While there are no online casinos in Colorado, bettors can check out the following land-based casinos in the area:

  • Bronco Billy’s Casino Hotel, Cripple Creek
  • Saratoga Casino Hotel, Black Hawk
  • Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, Black Hawk
  • Century Casino & Hotel, Central City
  • Double Eagle Hotel & Casino, Cripple Creek
  • Golden Gates Casino, Black Hawk
  • McGills Hotel & Casino, Cripple Creek
  • Brass Ass Casino, Cripple Creek
  • Dostal Alley Casino & Brewery, Central City
  • Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino, Cripple Creek
  • Monarch Casino, Black Hawk
  • Ameristar Casino Resort, Black Hawk

Also available in CO are these tribally owned, land-based casinos:

  • Sky Ute Casino Resort, Ignacio
  • Ute Mountain Casino Hotel, Towaoc

Poker

Whilst online poker can be interpreted as being illegal in the state of Colorado, it’s perfectly fine for any interested bettor to head to their local casino and start playing the popular game. It’s also legal to play poker with friends and family in a social setting so long as it doesn’t take place online and nobody is profiting from rake, donations, or other charges.

Poker is defined as being a game of chance, and these games are specifically outlawed by Colorado’s set of written laws. In order for online poker to become legal, there will need to be quite a drastic change to the wording included in these rules.

To play poker, you CO residents can journey to the Ameristar Casino Poker Room in Black Hawk, the Isle Casino Poker Room also based in Black Hawk, or the Midnight Rose Poker Room in Cripple Creek. Two tribal casinos - Sky Ute and Ute Mountain - also support poker rooms. 

Lottery

Taking part in Colorado’s state lottery is legal. Tickets can be purchased online using the lottery app or website, where tickets for Mega Millions, Colorado Lottery+, Lucky for Life, and other lottery games are found. Players need to be at least 18 years of age to buy a lottery ticket, whether online or at a retail venue.

Bingo

As bingo is a game of chance it’s illegal for players to take profits from the game. That’s why the game is primarily run by charitable organizations in CO. In these charitable events, players can join in on the action and try their hand at winning with the knowledge that no cash will head their way, no matter the outcome.

Casinos in Colorado are allowed to hold bingo nights, and in these events players as young as 18 can enter the fray. Prizes are capped at $15,000, and often casinos will replace cash with prizes of the same value. According to Colorado’s jurisdiction, only entities that have been in operation for five years or more may apply for bingo and/or raffles in CO.

Horse Racing

Anyone aged 18 and above can indulge in everything the joys of horse racing wagering can offer. There are loads of ways to place bets, such as via your smartphone or tablet, while off-track betting stations are also ready to be used. Moreover, bets can be placed on horse races that take place outside the state.

Sites like TVG allow players to bet on horse races at the touch of a button, while tracks like The 8 Track, Havana Park, and Arapahoe Park regularly play host to exciting races for onlookers to take a punt on. As pari-mutuel betting has been legal in CO since the late 1940s, horse-racing betting is well ingrained into the states’ culture.

FAQs

Can you gamble online in Colorado?

Players can gamble online in Colorado as long as they’re only placing sports bets. Online casino games are strictly prohibited.

What gambling is legal in Colorado?

Legal forms of gambling in Colorado are sports betting, sweepstakes-based poker, state lotteries, and horse racing. In some cases, bingo is also permitted.

What is the legal gambling age in Colorado?

For horse racing and state lotteries, players must be at least 18 years old. All other forms of betting require that bettors are 21 years of age or older.

When was gambling legalized in Colorado?

Pari-mutuel horse racing betting has been legal in Colorado since 1949, while the first state lottery was held in April 1983. Casinos opened their doors to customers for the first time in 1991, and the most recent new addition to the roster was sports betting, which was officially legalized at the back-end of 2019.

How much is taxed on gambling winnings in Colorado?

There is a flat 4.63% tax applied to all gambling winnings in Colorado.

Robert Miller

Robert Miller

Robert is responsible for all content on BettingGuide US. Robert previously worked as a poker dealer during his college years at MIT where he studied Computational Science and Engineering. With a great interest in gambling, Robert likes to go in-depth when writing so that you can make a wiser choice when choosing an operator.

Last updated: 6/18/2021