As the brick and mortar casino industry in Colorado prepares to reopen, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has made some history by launching US-first tribal sports betting app.
Under the banner of the Sky Ute Casino, Sky Ute SportsBook was launched this week. This development boasts the first tribal sports betting app available statewide in any US market.
CO sports betting has rolled out dramatically following the authorization by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC) on May 1. Around six apps launched in the first month despite the absence of major sports to bet on because of the pandemic.
After this launch, they are seven now. As a tribal property, General Manager, Charley Flagg, resolved that Sky Ute’s sportsbook and the app will give players “the best odds in the state.”
A ‘first’ for US tribes
Sky Ute SportsBook is a collaborative effort of the Southern Ute tribe and Las Vegas-based company, USBookmaking. It is a Native American-owned sportsbook and odds management company based in Las Vegas.
USBookmaking manages retail sportsbooks in New Mexico and is wants to open additional spots in Michigan and Iowa in the foreseeable future. Besides, it will power Sky Ute’s retail sportsbook.
The lack of other tribal sportsbook applications is due in large part to a lack of overlap between states with tribal gaming, plus those that have legalized online sports.
Coronavirus came at the worst time for Colorado
The closures of Colorado casinos, in addition to the entire gaming industry throughout the US, in mid-march due to the pandemic-led measures, was unfortunate. Notably, its timing was bad, or maybe the worst, as the May 1 launch date was expected to include both retail and online sportsbooks. The shutdowns meant that now it was online only.
Michigan was no exception where it was the retail sportsbooks that launched this spring, in days before the virus shut down everything, including casinos.
However, Colorado was a bit lucky in that its operators could at least get their apps up and running, though there has been very little to gamble. The time of the casino closure coincided with the suspension of all pro sports league.
While taking all these things into account, the first Colorado apps to launch deserved some pat on the back, with $25 million in handle for May. Indeed, that’s incomparable to the $500 million in average monthly handle required to hit the bullish projections.
Obviously, low numbers result when the most exciting betting options of the players are reduced to games like Korean baseball or Czech table tennis.
Even the most established betting industries like New Jersey could not escape the effects of the pandemic-led crisis, which caused the loss of 80% of sports betting revenue. However, things are likely to improve once the sports season resumes.
Reopenings to follow next week
Gradually, the states around the nation have been allowing their casino industries to reopen. Colorado’s turn is just around the corner.
There are over 30 commercial casinos in the state. All are located in one of three towns designated for the purpose: Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek. By Wednesday, all the casinos will resume their operations.
Sky Ute Casinos is one of the two tribal properties in Colorado. However, neither of the two has announced its reopening as yet. Likewise, the time for the state’s first retail sportsbook is also uncertain.
Sky Ute told the media that it initially planned to open its on-site sportsbook on May 1 and launch the app afterward. However, its plans were affected by the coronavirus that led to the nation-wide lockdowns in mid-March.