In November of last year, Coloradans passed Prop DD that legalized sports betting in Colorado to fund the Colorado Water Plan.
The independent analyst firm Eilers & Krejcik project that the total amount wagered on sports in Colorado could eventually grow to over $200 million per year – and other states are proving these projections to be true. We sat down with Stanton Dodge, Chief Legal Officer at DraftKings, to discuss sports betting in Colorado as we approach its launch.
Q: How did a Colorado lawyer in telecom wind up in such a key position with a sports betting giant based on the east coast?
A: I loved my time at DISH, cherished the friendships I made there and am proud of the small role I played in its success. At first glance, it might seem like a strange move but DISH and DraftKings are very similar companies in many ways. Both are intensely focused on the customer experience. Both are disruptive and on the leading edge of changing the way people engage with their favorite sports, teams and athletes. Both are innovative and looking over the horizon for the next big thing. For me, while personally it was a tough choice, the move to DraftKings was the natural next step in my professional career.
Q: You’re originally from Boston. But you have three young kids who’ve grown up in Colorado. Please let our readers know you did the right thing and raised them Broncos’ fans.
A: My children could’ve taken the easy way out and jumped on the Patriots’ bandwagon but they’re Colorado through and through and bleed orange and blue. To be honest, I love it because it’s so pure, and it’s so special to watch your kids grow into sports fans on their own. The Broncos are their hometown team, the players are larger-than-life superheroes and nothing is going to change that. It’ll be a really fun week in the Dodge household this upcoming NFL season when the Broncos and Patriots play.
Q: What goes into being a mobile sports betting operator? Is DraftKings more of a sports company or a tech company?
A: At our core, DraftKings is a cutting-edge digital sports entertainment and gaming company rooted in technology and analytics that fosters dynamic and personalized experienced for sports fans. What sets DraftKings apart is our foundation as a tech company. We have a proven track record of creating innovative products that U.S. sports fans love.
Q: When will Colorado start allowing sports betting and how can we make our first bets?
A: Legal sports betting, both mobile and retail, will become legally operational on May 1. Director Dan Hartman and his team at the Colorado Division of Gaming have done an outstanding job developing a modern, consumer-centric framework for sports betting.
Q: When people think of sports betting, they typically just picture “Broncos -7” and/or an over/under. What kind of betting will be legal?
A: The modern, mobile sports betting experience is entirely different from going to a Las Vegas sportsbook. The experience on the DraftKings mobile and online Sportsbook is dynamic and carries through the entire game. Sports betting is no longer a pre-game activity where you make your bet and then wait until the final whistle. On any given day, there will be 50,000 different things to bet on the DraftKings mobile app. Sure, you can bet on the Broncos’ spread or the over/under. But you can also bet on which team will have more sacks, which player will have the most receiving yards and who will score the first touchdown. And, based on what’s happening in the game, the odds will update in real time.
Q: How do you think sports betting will be received in Colorado?
A: The reality is that many Coloradans are betting right now—they’re just doing it through illegal apps and websites. Many of those people will choose the legal, safe option once it’s available. There are also many people who have been waiting for legal sports betting to arrive. So, I think, as we’ve seen in other states that have legalized mobile sports betting, the reaction will be very positive. As far as dollar totals, each state is different. But, in general, states with mobile sports betting frameworks similar to Colorado’s are hitting their revenue projections and succeeding in bringing people into the legal market.
I give Director Hartman and the Colorado Division of Gaming a lot of credit because they recognized how critical mobile sports betting is. Mobile is the dominant driver of sports betting in Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and it’ll likely be the same in Colorado.
Q: Speaking of the Colorado Water Fund, we’ve heard the state has new estimates that say the revenue generated may not be a much as previously thought. Why are the numbers different than we originally thought?
A: Well, I’m not sure they are. When the Colorado Legislature was drafting the language of the bill and setting guidance for tax revenue projections, they used estimates from a very respected third-party research firm. That group looked at what other states similar to Colorado brought in each month and their results settled on the $29 million estimate. When the Colorado Department of Revenue did their projections, they did not look at comparisons outside the state and came up with revenues of $1.6 million. Likely, due to the nascent market, it will fall somewhere in the middle until the market grows to maturity. I expect that we will see these numbers grow each year as sports betting becomes more popular.
It’s important to remember that sports betting, like any new industry, will take some time to reach maturity. Sports betting is also very seasonal. In 2020, Colorado will miss out on major annual sporting events like the NCAA basketball tournament. There will be a lot of excitement around the launch of legal sports betting in Colorado, but no one should draw any firm conclusions based on what happens over the first few months.