Colorado’s Attorney General Cynthia Coffman recently released a statement in which the subject of legalized sports betting was addressed.
She stated that she conducted a detailed legal analysis and has come to the conclusion that sports betting on a commercial scale is not restricted by the state’s constitution. However, under Colorado’s criminal code, sports betting is prohibited.
This means that there will need to be changes in the law but not in Colorado’s constitution.
Coffman began to look into what laws would have to be changed in order to legalize sports betting back in May. Her analysis confirmed that Title 18 in the Colorado Revised Statutes classifies sports betting as illegal. This means that lawmakers need to change this law if Colorado residents are going to be allowed to place wagers on sports.
One of the issues that Coffman looked into was whether or not the 1992 constitutional amendment which allowed for limited gaming in Blackhawk, Cripple Creek and Central City applies to sports gambling. She ruled that it did not stating that limited gaming was defined as blackjack, poker, and slot machines in the amendment. Coffman explained that due to the fact that sports betting is not considered limited gaming, the provision in the constitution isn’t relevant.
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Many proponents of legalized sports gambling are pleased with this news because it takes the matter out of the hands of Colorado’s voters who have repeatedly nixed expanding gambling beyond Blackhawk, Cripple Creek, and Central City. As could be expected, casinos in those cities see things a little differently. They seem to be taking the position that Attorney General Coffman’s interpretations and opinions are incorrect.
The Colorado Gaming Association released a statement in which they claimed that Coffman’s conclusion regarding betting on horse racing and dog racing not being materially different from betting on professional and collegiate sports is both factually and legally wrong.
Making changes to Colorado’s criminal code won’t be easy even though legalizing sports betting can be accomplished without having the public vote on the matter. Coffman expects that members of the General Assembly are going to get a lot of input from their constituents and other interested parties who will point to the benefits of legalized sports betting as well as the negative societal consequences. Coffman said that the pros and cons must be carefully weighed to ensure that best decision for the state is made.