Is Online Gambling Legal in Colorado?
Some types of online gambling are legal in Colorado. Recent changes to the law have welcomed sports betting, both in-person and online. The result is a massive influx of sports betting operators into the state, competing to offer Colorado residents a wide range of wagering options.
The same can’t be said for online casinos and poker sites. These have not been legalized at all, meaning any resident who tries to access offshore sites, or sites legal in other US states, will find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
If you’re looking to access slots, jackpots, table games, and other casino entertainment online, then your only legal option is a suite of social casinos that are accessible by Colorado residents. These don’t allow players to gamble with real money, but they do gamify the experience with coins or tokens and competitions offering real prizes that can also come in the form of cash.
Colorado Online Casinos
We’ll give it to you straight. At the time of writing, there’s no such thing as a Colorado online casino. The state is very clear about the matter and has deemed such sites illegal.
This doesn’t stem from any kind of anti-gambling rhetoric, since land-based casinos are liberally spread throughout the state. It’s more likely that the government feels that brick-and-mortar casinos are far easier to monitor and control than their online counterparts. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that, should you find yourself in this beautiful state, a true casino experience can only be accessed in person.
History Of Colorado Online Gambling
Certain forms of gambling have always been present, but true casino culture didn’t hit Colorado until the very early 1990s. Unlike other states, which can trace gambling entertainment as far back as the 1700s, Colorado only began recording betting laws in the 1940s.
In 1948, the Colorado Racing Commission was established, legalizing pari-mutuel wagering on horse and greyhound racing. This resulted in several horse-and-dog racing facilities scattered across the state by 1949. In 1958, charitable raffles and bingo found their place in the law. Harness racing had its day in the 1970s but was soon phased out due to a lack of popularity. The Colorado State Lottery was introduced in 1983 to massive success and still runs today. In 2000, it was extended to include multi-state jackpot drawings, like Powerball and Mega Millions.
It wasn’t until 1990 that casino-style gaming was introduced to the areas of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. The regulations were strict: bets couldn’t go above $5 and the casinos were on a curfew. By 2009, gaming limits were relaxed up to a maximum of $100 per bet. In 2014, greyhound races were made illegal. However, by 2019, sports betting became legal and stepped into its place.
When Could Colorado Online Gambling Become Legal?
The answer to when Colorado will fully embrace online gambling is part obvious and part unknown. As we explore in detail in this review, online sports betting is legal and fully operating in the state. Things go south when you begin to consider the fate of online casinos in Colorado. Despite a recent legal update, online gambling in the form of casino-style games didn’t get the go-ahead. They remain firmly illegal with no real hint as to when this could change.
The only glimmer of hope is that the immense tax injection into state coffers from sports betting will spur legislators to double down on the indisputable profits online casinos would bring. But even if things went this way, it wouldn’t be a quick transition. The law moves slowly, particularly laws surrounding complex issues like taxation and licensed gambling. Should Colorado decide to kickstart online casino gambling, it won’t come into force for several years.
Land-Based Casinos in Colorado
Unlike online casinos, land-based casinos are a huge feature of Colorado’s entertainment landscape. In fact, the casino scene is a thriving sector of Colorado revenue that pulls in a lot of annual tourism. And while people no longer travel to the area hoping to strike it rich as they did during the Gold Rush, they still pay the state a visit in the hopes of a life-changing jackpot win - or simply to have a little fun!
There are about 40 brick and mortar casinos in Colorado, and they’re all fully equipped with slots, poker, craps, blackjack, roulette, and other popular games. And these aren’t poky little gaming halls. Most of the casinos are sprawling 24-hour properties with hotels, restaurants and live entertainment. All of these establishments are in Central City, Black Hawk, Cripple Creek, Ignacio, and Towaoc. The casinos in Ignacio and Towaoc are run by two native tribes and governed by compacts with the state. All the other casinos are privately owned and governed by specific clauses in Colorado law.
Expected Online Casino Games in Colorado
Attempting to list all the online casino games expected to be allowed in Colorado would be pure speculation. The state is completely intolerant to online real-money gambling and this isn’t about to change any time soon. We can only observe the games currently allowed at land-based casinos, as the same rules would probably apply in the event that online casinos are introduced.
Colorado is tolerant of most casino games, but games can be added or removed at the state’s sole discretion. Most recently, in 2021, baccarat was added to the accepted games list and could be offered in land-based casinos. It coincided with the removal of the $100 maximum bet cap. In total, 18 types of casino games are legal, but four of them are just different styles of blackjack. Should the laws remain unchanged for online casinos, players would have their pick of almost everything on offer.
Online Slots in Colorado
The only way to play online slots in Colorado is to scout out a social casino that offers these kinds of games. You can take a look at our list up top to get an idea of the most reputable social casinos and sweepstakes sites around. These won’t allow you to spin reels for real money, but you will be able to play with a virtual balance and enter leaderboard competitions for real prizes. The sites are incredibly well structured and will offer you a similar competitive experience without the risk of any real money losses.
Online Poker in Colorado
Unfortunately, online poker receives much the same treatment as online slots do. It’s illegal to play poker on any online site, even those that accept players from Colorado. Of course, if you’re a resident of the state, you can easily visit one of the copious land-based casinos and take a seat at a table for the full poker experience. However, if you’re absolutely resistant to traveling, then your only remaining option is to check out a social poker site where you can play online without wagering real money. There are several top sites like this and we list them at the top of this review.
Lottery in Colorado
Lotteries are huge money-makers for state governments, and Colorado is well aware of this. The Colorado Lottery became legal and active in 1982, but initially, it was limited to just local games. Tickets can only be purchased at retail outlets in the form of scratchcards. Eventually, the state extended its reach to include draw games, and later still it linked up with the multi-state lottery. That means the addition of Powerball and Mega Millions, as well as all the other lottery varieties that get added to the mix. Unfortunately, the Colorado Lottery remains firmly land-based and players still need to visit retail outlets to purchase tickets. Although there is an app, it can only be used to check results and not make purchases.
Roulette in Colorado
Games like roulette are very popular in Colorado, but they remain firmly the domain of land-based casinos. There’s no way to legally play for real money online, and this isn’t going to change any time soon. If you don’t want to visit one of the many casinos in Colorado to place your bets on the beautiful roulette wheel, you’re going to have to settle for social casinos that feature this game. It won’t be exactly like the immense thrill of a real money win, but it’s as close as you can get online.
Online Blackjack in Colorado
There’s no such thing as legal online blackjack in the great state of Colorado. While locals are huge fans of blackjack (Colorado legalized no less than four styles of the popular card game), it’s only available to play in any of the forty land-based casinos. Sites which target Coloradans with real-money blackjack games are definitely illegal. Our advice is to stick to one of the social casinos recommended above.
Live Dealer Games in Colorado
Live dealer games are becoming massively popular with players from all over the world. This isn’t surprising when you consider that they offer the best of both worlds. The combination of on-the-go gambling and actual dealers running each game in real time is hard to resist. Unfortunately, these interactive games have yet to make an appearance anywhere other than real money online casinos. That means players from Colorado will have to content themselves with visits to brick-and-mortar casinos and wait around for the law to change - if it ever does.
Future Growth Of Colorado Gaming
Colorado is already a lot more advanced than many other states in the matter of gambling. They have a thriving land-based casino sector that’s governed by both state legislation and legal compacts with local Indian tribes. Sportsbetting recently experienced a breakthrough with full-blown legalization, both in-person and online.
The only gambling sector that wasn’t included was that of online casinos. That’s probably because legalizing sites like this requires a state constitution amendment, and these are incredibly hard to push through. That being said, money is a powerful motivator, and once the state does the math on sports betting revenue, they may well decide to extend their welcome to online casinos too.
Daily Fantasy Sports Betting in Colorado
Of all the states in the US, Colorado was the fifth state to legalize daily fantasy sports (DFS) in 2016. This kind of gaming experience offers a more gamified option for sports lovers that want to do more than simply place a bet. Being able to draft teams and track their success based on real sports events is a huge selling point for anyone who loves getting involved.
The two largest DFS operators are DraftKings and FanDuel, and both offer their services in Colorado. Today, they’ve each extended their services to full blown sportsbooks (we discuss this in a different section of this review).
Horse Betting in Colorado
Gambling racetracks have been a legal form of entertainment in Colorado since 1948. The law has evolved over the years, reflecting the local appetite for racetrack betting in general. Initially, it was pari-mutuel betting that took place, and bettors would place wagers on both horses and greyhounds. Today, greyhound racing is completely banned after being prohibited by Governor Hickenlooper in 2014. There’s only one horse racing venue left in Colorado, and its long-term future remains uncertain.
There are 12 off-track betting (OTB) locations offering simulcast racing and pari-mutuel racing to anyone over the age of 18. Overall, horse betting is probably the least popular form of gambling in Colorado.
Online Sportsbooks in Colorado
Online sports gambling is a massively thriving industry in Colorado, especially considering its fairly recent introduction into law. Both live and mobile sports betting were made legal in November 2019. By May 2020, there were already several operators offering their services and taking wagers.
Big names and brands in sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook, Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, and BetRivers jumped on the new market opportunity. The new laws also carved out a path for retail sportsbooks. As with all land-based gambling, these outlets are confined to the towns of Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City.
What Sports Can I Bet On With Colorado Legal Sports Gambling sites?
Colorado’s online sports betting industry is sophisticated and structured around some of the biggest sportsbooks in the world. Because the brands available have been operating for years, there’s really no betting market that’s closed off to them. Colorado didn’t place any restrictions on which sports can be bet on and which can’t, leaving sportsbooks to enter the market with their full portfolio of betting pools.
Unsurprisingly, the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL are among the top sports to place wagers on. College football and college basketball also make the top of the list. However, these are in good company with several other sports that draw slightly fewer viewers, like golf, tennis, rugby, hockey, formula 1, and cricket. The sportsbooks offer all kinds of wagering styles and kick things up a notch during special sporting seasons and events. As the Colorado sports gambling market continues to mature, we can expect more competition and improved odds.
Deposit and Withdrawal Methods in Colorado Gambling Sites
All reputable sportsbooks will offer their clients several ways to deposit and withdraw. Deciding on one is entirely dependent on what works for your lifestyle. You should always research every payment method and make sure you’re not going to get lumped with extra fees. In the US, the options available are fairly standardized across all sportsbooks, but certain methods may be added and excluded depending on what’s allowed in the state. We’ve run through the most common option you’ll come across here:
- Credit and debit cards like Visa, MasterCard and Discover. These are a solid option if you don’t want to use an intermediary eWallet, or if you prefer to use credit.
- Bank wire or bank transfer. This usually takes a little longer and you should watch out for any associated fees.
- Online banking directly to your gaming account. This is an easy way to track your transactions online.
- VIP Preferred. The best way to fund your sportsbook account if you're using e-checks.
- Apple Pay. This is a fantastic option if you’re using an app as it immediately processes your deposit and withdraws to the payment method linked to your phone.
- PayNearMe. This is the only way to fund your account using cash. Simply visit a CVS, Family Dollar or 7-Eleven and follow the easy steps.
- PayPal or Play+. These are both eWallets and they allow you to create a virtual holding account for your deposits and withdrawal transactions. It’s usually the fastest option too.
Colorado Gambling Bonuses
Colorado is fairly non-discriminate about which sportsbooks are allowed to operate within the state. This has created fierce competition amongst powerful brands. Competition is great for the bettors because it always results in a slew of excellent bonuses offering additional value and increased opportunities to walk away a real cash winner.
The best bonus you’re likely to pick up is your very first one with a new operator. These welcome offers are usually very generous, offering opportunities like a risk-free bet up to $1,000. Risk-free bets are those that promise you your stake back if your bet doesn’t win. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and you should always read the terms very carefully before accepting anything.
Promotions and offers will cover everything from boosted profits, to free bets and improved odds. Offers like these usually keep good company with loyalty programs based on points systems and referral bonuses if you can get your pals to sign up.
Our Thoughts on How Colorado is Developing
Colorado is definitely in the midst of an online gambling boom, but there’s a long way to go before it sits in the same ranks as states like New Jersey. With the legalization of online sportsbooks, Colorado made huge strides - not to mention massive profits. The market had a flying start, and this is probably because there was no way to gamble on sports before the legal amendments.
Online casinos continue to be resisted, and there are a number of reasons why this is the case. Widespread online casinos come with a number of legal considerations and repercussions, and the state needs to be heavily prepared with a solid infrastructure. The hope is that observing the way that sportsbooks operate, and making adjustments along the way, will set up Colorado for a successful online casino launch in the near future.