Colorado Avalanche: Sports Betting Could be Legalized

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 02: Betting sheets for NBA, NHL and NCAA basketball are stacked at the Race & Sports SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on February 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The newly renovated sports book, currently offering nearly 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, has the world's largest indoor LED video wall with 4,488 square feet of HD video screens measuring 240 feet wide and 20 feet tall. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 02: Betting sheets for NBA, NHL and NCAA basketball are stacked at the Race & Sports SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on February 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The newly renovated sports book, currently offering nearly 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, has the world's largest indoor LED video wall with 4,488 square feet of HD video screens measuring 240 feet wide and 20 feet tall. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche are unlikely to be affected one way or another by the change in the sports betting law.

Soon you may be able to bet on Colorado Avalanche games legally.

Ok, maybe not really soon, but at least it’s a possibility. Today the Supreme Court overturned a 1992 federal law that prohibited most states from legalizing sports betting. The rationale for striking the law was that it violated constitutional principles about the federal government controlling state policy.

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Now, that doesn’t mean that you can run up to Black Hawk tomorrow to place a bet on the Capitals-Lightning game. States first have to pass their own legislation concerning sports betting.

In fact, Colorado hasn’t leaned in that direction in the past. In fact, Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes defines sports gambling as an illegal activity.

More significantly, the Colorado Constitution defines only the following as legal forms of gambling:

  • Blackjack
  • Poker
  • Slot machines
  • Craps
  • Roulette

Likewise, you’re only allowed to gamble in three cities — Central City (which, come to find out, is really just called Central), Black Hawk and Cripple Creek.

Now, changing those two laws is possible. But it’s not going to be done this year. Colorado lawmakers have concluded their work year already, and they’re probably not going to call a special session for this issue. What’s more, it would have to be voted on, and it’s already too late to get sports betting on the ballot for next year.

It could be possible for 2019, though. You could legally start betting on the Colorado Avalanche when they make the playoffs next season. If we all vote for it.

Now, the original law was endorsed by professional sports organizations including the NCAA, NFL and NBA. It’s not said if the NHL officially endorsed the 1992 federal law, but it’s a good bet — the NHL isn’t exactly known for being on the forefront of edgy opinions.

Today, the NHL did release a statement about the law’s repeal:

"“The Supreme Court’s decision today paves the way to an entirely different landscape – one in which we have not previously operated. We will review our current practices and policies and decide whether adjustments are needed, and if so, what those adjustments will look like. It’s important to emphasize that the Supreme Court’s decision has no immediate impact on existing League rules relating to sports wagering, and particularly, wagering involving NHL games. So, while changes may be considered in the future, today’s decision does not directly impact the operation of the League or any of our Clubs in the short term.”"

The main issue for the NHL or any sports league is a cultural change. We’ll start to see constant advertisements for sports betting and an emphasis on winning money over supporting a team. Even the language of hockey might change, as we hear more about the odds and other gambling lingo. (Of course, advanced stats have already changed the language, which is annoying.)

However, there’s still a small fear that legalizing sports betting outside of Las Vegas will open up the sport to high rollers actually influencing the results of the game. That’s why Las Vegas wasn’t allowed to have professional sports for so long.

On the other hand, there’s a thought that transparent, regulated sports betting can actually protect the integrity of the game. After all, people have been betting on games — just illegally. It’s kind of like the marijuana argument all over again.

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I’m not a gambler, so I don’t really care about the legislative change. It’ll be annoying for some of the lingo and emphasis to change, but, like I said, I’ve already endured that with the whole advanced stats movement.

That said, if sports betting is legalized in Colorado, I’ll absolutely have to go make a symbolic bet that the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup that year.