“Fixed Odds” Horse Wagers Continue Legal Pathway to Colorado Sports Betting Market

“Fixed Odds” Horse Wagers Continue Legal Pathway to Colorado Sports Betting Market

Proposed SBG rule updates could bring fixed odds horse racing bets into the legal Centennial State online sports betting fold.


The Colorado Department of Revenue Special Business Group, which is responsible for regulating legal sports betting in the state, is considering rule changes that would bring “fixed odds” wagers on horses into retail and online sportsbooks in CO.

The SBG’s recently published stakeholder proposal from February 2022 suggests that “fixed odds” or “price” wagering on both horse racing and greyhound events could soon form a part of the Authorized Sports Betting Activities landscape in Colorado.

The proposal, if approved, could further enhance the racing industry’s exposure within the legal sports betting realm while avoiding the horse racing decoupling trend that has gained statewide traction since the 2018 SCOTUS repeal of PASPA.

Continuation of 2021 Fixed Odds Wagering Initiative in Colorado

As communicated in November 2021, sportsbook transmission and betting options for in-state simulcast, satellite, or closed circuit feeds would likely increase influence for Colorado horsemen as well as Bally’s Arapahoe Park venue, due to a stipulation that would require Colorado sportsbooks to solicit and obtain authorization from in-state horse racing interests – no less than 72 hours before each event.

The initiative first gained steam in May 2021, when an in-depth workshop was hosted by the CO Division of Gaming.

Rule Changes Could Be Adopted For Intrastate and Out-of-State Races

According to the proposed rule changes to Authorized Sports Betting Activities [see: Rule 5.4 proposed change], Colorado sportsbooks would need to acquire permission from the Colorado Racing Commission along with the in-state hosting racetrack before the “fixed odds” or “price” products can be offered for in-state horse racing “sports betting” activities.

Authorization would also need to be granted (either directly or indirectly) by the “horse persons” associations that are competing on a specific date, at a specific venue.

Other races that take place outside of Colorado (but inside the United States) could also receive fixed odds consideration by legal Colorado sportsbooks, granted that the deal making process involves those hosting racetracks and interests as well as full consent from Colorado venues.

New Rules In Place By This Summer?

New “fixed odds” betting rules could be implemented in time for Colorado’s “live” horse racing season that is set to begin in May 2022.

The Arapahoe Park racetrack in Aurora remains the only land-based venue where horse races occur in real time, with dozens of seasonal dates spread out through the summer months. 

If adopted in the next couple of months, the rule changes would provide an active “testing” ground for Colorado’s proposed “fixed odds” horse racing tie-in to the legal sports betting market.

Casino Gaming Remains Revenue King Despite “Fixed Odds” Betting Push

As more legal retail sportsbooks open shop at horse racetracks across America, one thing remains clear: casino gaming is still (by far) the most lucrative “vertical” for gaming interests worldwide – and there is no indication that Colorado would buck that trend if it eventually legalizes iGaming.

New Jersey’s existing “fixed odds” offering, which is similar to what has become highly popular in other country markets such as Australia, may have “paved the way” for what will probably soon become a reality in Colorado, yet casino-style gaming is expected to maintain its firm position as the “profit-based” and “taxable income” king for any jurisdictions in which it is offered as a legal product.

As far as Colorado online gaming revenue is concerned, online casino activity is NOT legal.

The Centennial State currently relies on a 2013 opinion by former Attorney General John Suthers, plus a 2005 Department of Revenue News Release that classify online casinos as an illegal gambling activity that is disallowed within the state of Colorado.

Author: Neil Garza