Legalising Sports Betting in Colorado Is Not Unconstitutional

Publish: 17.08.2018

Following the US Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the PASPA Act back in May, sports betting has become one of the most popular topics in the United States.

It seems a day can’t go by without news regarding the future of this lucrative market.

Now, the court’s ruling has given the states the legal authority to decide whether they want to make sports betting legal or not, and the majority of them has decided to give it the green light since such a move would mean more money for the state coffers.

New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island have already legalised sports betting, while many others are preparing to do so in the coming period.

Attorney General clarifies the legality of sports betting legalisation

No Change Needed

The whole topic of sports betting has become an important political issue, causing turmoil in many jurisdictions, and the state of Colorado is one of them. Still, there is good news for the proponents of sports betting legalisation in the Centennial State, since according to Cynthia Coffman, Colorado’s Attorney General (AG), establishing sports betting operations should be a lot easier than many believed.

Coffman recently published a formal legal opinion on the matter, stating the state’s constitution didn’t prohibit or otherwise restrict commercial betting. The reports also stated that whether or not to amend state statutes to authorise commercial sports betting was a policy question for the General Assembly and the voters in Colorado.

It was widely believed, and suggested by many legal experts, that any future move towards sports betting legalisation would require a referendum that would subsequently lead to a change of the state constitution.

However, since sports betting is not a game of chance, amending the constitution won’t be necessary.

Casinos Disagree

On the other hand, casinos operating in Colorado weren’t overjoyed with the AG’s opinion. Commenting on the position of the state’s Attorney General, the Colorado Gaming Association (CGA) said the courts only gave respectful consideration to attorney general opinions and, many times, found that an AG’s opinion was incorrect.

The CGA pointed out that the weight of judicial authority throughout the country was that sports betting was, in fact, a lottery. The CGA added it strongly disagreed with General Attorney Coffman’s conclusion that horse and dog racing were not materially different than professional and collegiate sports betting.

The CGA believes sports betting should be allowed only at casinos, and advocate strict regulations.

And while the Attorney General’s opinion should be regarded as just that, it is still quite important and could have a significant impact. Lawyer Tom Downey said that Attorney General opinions were overwhelmingly consistent with how the courts ultimately ruled. He pointed out it was merely an opinion, but he stressed it was one of the opinions with the highest weight.

It should be noted Coffman hadn’t decided to publish her opinion on her own. Her expertise was requested by the state’s Department of Revenue a couple of months ago. Following her report, it will be interesting to see whether Colorado will soon make any progress regarding the future of sports betting on its territory.

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