The competition for sports betting dollars in the state of Colorado ahead of its May 1 launch date intensified Monday with the announcement that the SuperBook will enter the Centennial State marketplace, through a partnership with The Lodge Casino in Black Hawk.
While there is currently little sports betting action due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Colorado’s Limited Gaming Control Commission has moved briskly to approve sportsbook licenses in the casino cities of Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City. Assuming the SuperBook receives necessary regulatory approval to operate a mobile sportsbook and a retail sportsbook at The Lodge Casino, it will also usher in a Colorado version of its famed NFL pick ’em SuperContest.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while,” Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports operations at Westgate, told Sports Handle. “SuperBook is not looking to operate in every state, just the jurisdictions that make financial sense. The Colorado deal, we’ve been working on it for months. Things got tripped up over the last couple of months because of other things in our world, but we’ve come to an agreement.”
SuperContest, Colorado style, and mobile betting key
Colorado has 33 licensed casinos across its three approved sites for gambling and sports betting, each of which may partner with one third party for online betting and another to run a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, should the casino choose to operate one. The LGCC approved 18 licenses earlier this month and has issued nearly three dozen licenses since beginning the authorization process in February.
The SuperContest, run from the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, is the country’s premiere pro football handicapping contest and pays out to the top 100 finishers. Last year’s winner collected a record payout of $1,469,644.80, per SuperBook’s website. Where the Las Vegas version has a $1,500 entry fee, Kornegay explained the SuperContest for Colorado — pending LGCC approval — would be a standalone contest within the state’s borders (meaning no proxy entries) and have a more accessible entry fee of $500.
Another selling point for expanding into Colorado was instant remote registration, which has been vital to the success for sports betting in other states, most notably New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. All three states have recorded mobile handles of better than 70% of the overall handle during 2020, and in the case of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it has eclipsed 80% on a consistent basis. Kornegay figures Colorado will exceed those percentages due to online registration and the remote locations of the state’s casinos.
“The casinos operating in Colorado are in remote areas, unlike Nevada and the Strip,” he noted. “They are mountain towns, so the remote signup option Coloradans have for mobile apps is vital. To have that convenience of signing up for a mobile app from your couch rather than go to a physical location like you do in Nevada is big … Most of our handle, 95 percent will be mobile” in Colorado.
“Our initial plan was to launch mobile May 1 to match Colorado sports betting. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with unforeseen circumstances, which is hindering the launch,” Kornegay said, referring to the pandemic. “We’re ready to operate, one, when we know it’s safe for everyone, and two, at least one major league restarts play or starts play. Those two things have to happen.”