Provided that state politicians can agree on appropriate legislation, the US state of Colorado could join the US rush to legalise sports betting without having to amend the state constitution, substantially streamlining such a process.
That’s the official opinion of Colorado state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who following a request from the Colorado Department of Revenue has published her formal view that the Colorado Constitution does not prohibit or restrict commercial sports betting, and that the issue is a policy question for the state Legislature and Colorado voters
The opinion observes that: “Whether a game is a lottery turns on the role that chance plays in the outcome.” She argues that since sports gambling certainly does not rely on chance, “wagering on a sporting event falls outside this definition.”
Coffman has already encountered opposition to her opinion; the Colorado Gaming Association (CGA) has published its perspective, claiming: “The Colorado courts only give ‘respectful consideration’ to attorney general opinions and, many times, found that an AG’s opinion is incorrect.
“The weight of judicial authority throughout the country is that sports betting is, in fact, a ‘lottery.’ Attorney General Coffman’s conclusion that horse and dog racing are ‘not materially different’ than professional and collegiate sports betting is factually and, we believe, legally incorrect.”
The casino operators’ opposition to the AG’s interpretation of state law is rooted in their contention that sports betting should be the exclusive preserve of the casinos, and should not be permitted at pari-mutuel horse and dog racing tracks.