Colorado casinos preparing sportsbooks, betting apps ahead of legal sports wagering

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BLACK HAWK, Colo.  — With less than 90 days to go until sports wagering becomes legal in Colorado, local casinos are designing and preparing to start construction on Vegas-style sportsbooks, complete with big-screen monitors, betting windows and kiosks.

“(We’re) thrilled that the voters passed sports betting last November. We’re starting to plan how we’re going to roll it out here at Ameristar. We’re going to start with a sportsbook here on property, working on the design right now,” said Sean Demeule, vice president and general manager of Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk.

“We’re taking what’s been done in Vegas and improving on that,” he added.

It’s been nearly two years since the United States Supreme Court widely legalized sports betting, and states all over the country have been rushing to cash in ever since. When it becomes legal in Colorado May 1, a total of 19 states and the District of Columbia will have voted to approve it.

The Colorado Division of Gaming plans to issue up to 33 sportsbook licenses in the Colorado mountain gambling towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Just last week, online betting giant DraftKings announced they’ll open a location inside Black Hawk’s Mardi Gras casino for gamblers to place their bets.

But you won’t need to travel to Black Hawk or any other gambling town to bet on your favorite team. Smartphone apps will allow you to place wagers from the comfort of your couch. However, the online sportsbooks will be geo-fenced, so you can only place your phone bet within the state of Colorado. Cross the border, and it won’t work.

You may be wondering where the gambling money goes. Place a $100 bet and $95 goes to winning bettors. A tiny chunk (about 25 cents) goes to a federal excise tax. The casino gets $4.75. That leaves about 50 cents that will go into state coffers. Still, the state of Colorado hopes to rake in millions per year from sports betting. The money will go toward the state’s water conservation plan.

Casinos hope legal sports wagering ushers in a new generation of gamblers.

“The sports betting demographic is kind of younger than the average casino demographic, so we think we’ll be seeing some new faces up here,” Demeule said.

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